Skip to main content

Full text of "Old Silltown Stillwater: something of its history and people; being principally a brief account of the early generations of the Sill family .."

See other formats




v.;Sri;i:LTOWM 

gOMETHIJNJG OF ITS 

'^^'^HY i^ND PEOPLE 




MEMORABILIA 

SARAH SILL WELLES BURT 



*v^"^ 



This book is one of 100 copies printed 

for private circulation by 

Mr. W. G. Burt. 

Presented to 

111 r S m] a r l^ oTci h \/\/ ooc{ U io n ^ ^ 

Nol^i^ 



^ Old Silltown 



^2 



SOMETHING OF ITS HISTORY 
AND PEOPLE 



'By 

Sarah Sill Welles Burt 

Great Grand-daughter of Lieutenant Colonel David Fithian Sill, 
Grand-daughter of Captain Thomas Sill. 






Being principally a brief account of the early 
generations of the 

SILL FAMILY 

Their settlement in Connecticut and their accomplishments, gleanings 
from old letters heretofore unpublished, early histories, rem- 
iniscences and traditions — also appreciations of those 
decendants of recent generations who were well 
known to the writer in their life time. 



Copyright 1912 
W. GRISWOLD BURT 





--inn 



IT T> 



f|04 



.05 



I.P 






M 



In memory of my Progenitors 

TO MY SON 

WILLIAM GRISWOLD BURT 



IS 



Inscribed this little volume 



1 



^^ 



Memorabilia 

SARAH SILL WELLES BURT. 

Sarah Sill Welles Burt, born in Utica, N. Y., in 1839, 
was the oldest daughter of Alfred Lee Welles and Sarah 
Griswold Sill, daughter of Captain Thomas Sill, of Lyme, 
Conn. (See Thomas Sill, Sixth Generation). Mr. Welles, 
her father, was for thirty years a prosperous merchant of 
Utica, a leading citizen of that city, and highly esteemed by 
the community. 

The family residence at the time of the birth of Sarah 
Welles was located on Devereaux street, later on Broad street 
and, still later the family moved to a suburb of the city, 
Whitesboro, in order that Mr. Welles might be near to the 
Utica Cotton Mills, of which he at that time was proprietor. 

The childhood education of Sarah Welles was acquired 
at a private school in Utica. At the age of fifteen, she was 
sent to the Maplewood Seminary at Pittsfield, Mass. Later 
she went with a friend (Sarah McCurdy Lord of Lyme) to 
the Spingler Institute of New York City, Fourteenth street 
and Broadway, conducted by Rev. Gorham D. Abbott 
(brother of John C. Abbott, the historian, and Uncle of Lyman 
Abbott, our present noted divine). Here, with much happi- 
ness, she acquired the finishing of her education. At that time 
her older brother, Thomas, was in Hamilton College, in the 



y^ 



MEMORABILIA 



HI 



same class with the present Honorable Elihu Root. After 
the completion of her studies, and until her marriage, she 
divided her time quite equally between her aunt, Mrs. Mary 
Sill of Lyme, Conn., and her Utica home. It was thus by 
reason of such close association with and her love for her Aunt 
Mary that she came to so highly cherish and revere the tradi- 
tions and memories of the old Sill family, and to love and 
respect so many of their friends amongst the Lyme people. 

Previous to the death of Mrs. Mary Sill in 1903, Sarah 
Welles Burt came from her home in Chicago each season to 
spend part of the summer with Mrs. Mary Sill, and in later 
years to stay a few weeks at the Inn or Boxwood. Her old 
Lyme associations were always dear to her and she took a 
proud interest in the lives of its people, generations past and 
present. As a descendant of the old Sills, who had lived pros- 
perously and honorably in the locality known as Silltown, 
who had faithfully served their community, state and country 
in civil and military capacities, she found pleasure in locating 
and acquiring the geneological data of the family and its con- 
nections, the stories and anecdotes of their lives and in doing 
what she could to preserve their traditions, relics and land- 
marks. The old Thomas Sill homestead, still standing in Sill- 
town, where Mrs. Mary Sill lived and died, the old farm at 
the head of Lieutenant River with its boat landings and sur- 
rounding hills were scenes of her childhood that were always 
fresh in her mind and ever were the source of happiness in her 
memory. 

In 18^ Sarah Welles was married to William Burt of 
Chicago, and for the remainder of her life resided in the city 
of Chicago itself or its North Shore suburb of Evanston. 



MEMORABILIA 



Her husband for thirty-five years was a well known busi- 
ness man, esteemed for ability and integrity, and beloved by 
men for the strength and force of his character. For the past 
twenty-nine years Sarah Welles Burt, with husband and 
son, resided in their Evanston residence. Mr. Burt, died of 
old age on June 6th, 1912, aged 84 years. For four years his 
wonderful New England constitution withstood the oncom- 
ing of the inevitable. During these trying years those who 
were close to Sarah Burt saw in the flesh the spirit of the 
Divine Master, whom she served. Seven weeks after the death 
of her husband, with whom she had for forty-five years trod 
the path of life, that Divine Master called her also to her 
everlasting rest. 

The Lord is my Shepherd 
He restoreth my Soul 

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow 
of death I will fear no evil. 

Obituary as Published in The Index of Evanston, III., 

July 27TH, 191 2. 

Mrs. Sarah Welles Burt. 

Mrs. Sarah Welles Burt, widow of William Burt, who 
for twenty-seven years, has been a resident of Evanston, died 
suddenly Sunday evening, July twenty-first, at the Mohican 
Hotel, New London, Conn., where she was stopping in ex- 
pectation of proceeding to Old Lyme, Conn. Her remains 
were brought back to the Evanston home she so dearly loved 
where kind friends gave her their final earthly tributes. 



M 



MEMORABILIA 



The funeral service Wednesday afternoon was conducted 
by her pastor, Rev. David Hugh Jones of the First Presby- 
terian church of this city and she was laid to rest at the side of 
her husband and children in the family lot in Graceland ceme- 
tery. 

From the days of her girlhood she had derived much 
pleasure from oft repeated visits to the old New England home 
of friends and ancestors and was looking forward to her antici- 
pated visit there this summer. 

On Friday night an attack of acute indigestion induced 
by fatigued condition affected her heart. However by Satur- 
day evening she was much better and on Sunday she was con- 
sidered to be rapidly regaining her normal condition, but at 
seven fifteen o'clock Sunday evening during the hour of twi- 
light her brave heart suddenly ceased to beat and her soul took 
flight to its Heavenly home. 

Sarah Welles, born in Utica, N. Y., was the daughter of 
Alfred L, Welles, who for many years was a prosperous mer- 
chant of that city. Of the family two brothers still remain, 
Mr. George S. Welles of Park Ridge and Chicago, 111., and 
Mr. Samuel M. Welles of Chicago. Sarah Welles, being the 
second child and oldest daughter of a family of ten children, 
many responsibilities fell to her. For the welfare of brothers 
and sisters she was ever mindful and after their death her deep 
affection continued unto their children. 

In 1867 she was married to William Burt of Chicago, to 
whom she bore four children, first a son who died when eigh- 
teen months old and successively two baby daughters who died 



MEMORABILIA 



in earliest infancy, lastly a second son, Mr. W. Griswold 
Burt, who was with her at the time of her death. 

Mrs. Burt survived the death of her husband by scarcely 
eight weeks. Never failing was her devotion to him during 
his four years of illness. As a daughter, as a sister, as a wife, 
as a mother her flow of sympathy was inexhaustible. 

For those she loved no effort was too great, no service too 
small, no sorrow severe or trifling but that her devotion and 
sympathy went forth to alleviate it. 

With a faith in her God and Saviour that was certain and 
unshakeable, with steadfast adherence to principle of right- 
ness she fought the Battle of Life midst all circumstances with 
a smile on her face and a spirit that was brave. Truly could 
she have said 

"I have fought a good fight, 

I have kept the faith. 

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness 

Which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day." 

The death of Mrs. Sarah Welles Burt comes as a shock to 
all who knew her, especially to the friends who bade her good 
bye ten days ago at her departure in company with her son, 
on a visit to her old home in the East. 

Mrs. Burt has been a member and regular attendant of 
the First Presbyterian church for the past twenty-two years 
and has always been interested in its various activities. In her 
church circle she leaves a vacancy which cannot be filled. 



MEMORABILIA 



She will also be missed at the gatherings of the University 
guild, of which she has been a member since its organization. 

Mrs. Burt was a: descendant of the Sill family on her 
mother's side and of the Welles on her father's. These fami- 
lies were among the early settlers of these states and figured 
prominently in their development. Being of this descent she 
was naturally interested in genealogical lore and historical 
events in connection with old New England, and especially in 
those events in which her forefathers were participants. 

These associations led her to a keen interest in the organ- 
ization of the Fort Dearborn chapter of the Daughters of the 
American Revolution of which she was a charter member. 
She has also been affiliated for many years with the Chicago 
chapter. 

Mrs. Burt was a woman of rare refinement and delicacy, 
of high intellectual qualities, — capable, sympathetic, gracious. 
As her pastor, Mr. Jones, stated at her funeral service, there 
are heroes in life, who endure burdens with fortitude and re- 
serve, and as truly give their lives for others as do the heroes 
of the battle-field. Mrs. Burt was one of these, assuming with 
uncomplaining cheerfulness and unswerving fidelity all de- 
mands which the circumstances of life made upon her. Amidst 
many exacting duties, she found time to think and act for 
others. Many were her deeds of kindness and thoughtfulness 
which endeared her to her neighbors and friends. By these 
her loss is deeply grieved; by these she will be sorely missed; 
among these her memory will linger long, for to know her 
was to love her. 



MEMORABILIA 



\r^ 



¥ 



Genealogy of Sarah Sill Welles Burt, as Descendant of 

John Sill of England. , , 

Sarah Sill Welles Burt, daughter of 

Alfred L. Welles and Sarah Griswold Sill, daughter of 

Mahitable Mather and Thomas Sill, son of 

Sarah Griswold and David Fithian Sill, son of 

Phoebe Fithian and Lieutenant John Sill, son of 

Phoebe Lord and Joseph Sill the 2nd, son of ^ 

Sarah Marvin Clark and Joseph Sill the ist, son of 

John Sill of England. 



MEMORABILIA 



Genealogy of Sarah Sill Welles Burt, as Descendant of 

George Clark. 
George Clark (1610-1690), among the original proprie- 
tors of the town of Milford, Connecticut, Deputy to General 
Court of Connecticut — 1666. 

Sarah Sill Welles Burt, daughter of 
Alfred L. Welles and Sarah Griswold Sill, daughter of 
Mahitable Mather and Captain Thomas Sill, son of 
Sarah Griswold and Captain David Fithian Sill, son of 
Phoebe Fithian and Lieutenant John Sill, son of 
Phoebe Lord and Joseph Sill the 2nd, son of 
Joseph Sill the ist, and Sarah Clark, daughter of 
George Clark, of Milford, Connecticut. 



MEMORABILIA 



Genealogy of Sar.ah Sill Welles Burt, as Descendant of 
Judge Nathanl^l Lynde. 

Sarah Sill Welles Burt, daughter of 
Alfred Welles and Sarah Griswold Sill, daughter of 
Mahitable Mather and Thomas Sill, son of 
David Fithian Sill and Sarah Griswold, daughter of 
Thomas Griswold and Susanna Lynde, daughter of 
Sarah Pratt and Nathanial Lynde, son of 
Susanna Willouby and Judge Nathanial Lynde, son of 
Hannah Newdigate and Simon Lynde, son of 
Elizabeth Digby (related to Earl of Windsor) and Enoch 
Lynde (of England). 



Note. — Lieutenant William Pratt died 1678, early settler of Saybrook, 
Conn., Deputy from Saybrook to General Court of Connecticut twenty- 
three times, Soldier in Pequot War 1637, County Magistrate in 1666, Lieu- 
tenant of Saybrook Band Oct. 3d, 1661. See Connecticut Colonial Records, 
Pratt, General. 

Hartford in the Olden Times, pp. 117. 

Hinman's Early Settlers. 

Bodges Soldiers of King Philh'p's War. 



MEMORABILIA 



Genealogy of Sarah Sill Welles Burt, as Descendant of 
Thomas Lee (or Leigh). 

Sarah Sill Welles Burt, daughter of 
Sarah Griswold Sill and Alfred Lee Welles, son of 
Alfred Welles and Abigail Lee, daughter of 
Betsy Elizabeth Smith and Seth Lee, son of 
Hepzibah Lee and Elisha Lee, son of 
Elizabeth Graham and Thomas Lee. 

Thomas Lee was representative to the General Court 
from Lyme sixteen times and repeatedly Justice of the Peace. 

.Elisha Lee (above mentioned), born in 1714, served in 
the Indian Wars as paymaster. A great-grand-daughter of 
his writes that Elisha Lee, having been captured by the Indians 
and sentenced to be burned at the stake, a friendly Indian took 
him on his back at midnight when there was snow on the 
ground, carried him to a river and leaving him, returned alone. 
As only one set of foot prints, and those an Indian's, were to 
be seen the white man could cross the river without being 
traced, which he did. 



10 



MEMORABILIA 



Genealogy of Sarah Sill Welles Burt, as Descendant of 
Rev. Richard Mather of England. 



Rev. Richard Mather of England married Catharine 



Holt 



their son 
Timothy Mather married Catharine Atherton 

their son 
Richard Mather married Catharine Wise 

their son 
Samuel Mather married Deborah Champion 

their son 
Richard Mather married Deborah Ely 

their son 
Samuel Mather married Lois Griswold 

their daughter 
Mahitable Mather married Thomas Sill 

their daughter 
Sarah Griswold Sill married Alfred L. Welles. 

and 
Sarah Sill Welles was their daughter. 



Note. — Rev. Richard Mather came to this countr}- in the vessel Angel 
Gabrial, born in Lancashire, England, 1596, was schoolmaster at Toxeth 
Park, near Liverpool, at the age of fifteen ; studied at Braymore College, 
Oxford; 161 8 was ordained in the English Church and became Minister of 
Toxeth, in which position he remained fifteen years. He was suspended for 
non-conformity to the ceremonies of the Established Church in 1633. He 
therefore emigrated to New England, arriving in Boston in 1635; the next 
year he became pastor of the church in Dorchester and remained in that posi- 
tion until his death, 1669. He was one of the compilers of the Bay Book 
Psalms. (See Mather Genealogy and Savage's Genealogy and History.) 






Ifi 



u 



//A 



II 



Hi 



MEMORABILIA 



Genealogy of Sailah Sill Welles Burt, as Descendant of 
Major General Humphrey Atherton. 

Catharine Atherton (daughter of Humphrey Atherton) 
married Timothy Mather, ' 

their son 
Richard Mather married Catharine Wise 

their son 
Samuel Mather married Deborah Champion 

their son 
Richard Mather married Deborah Ely 

their son 
Samuel Mather married Lois Griswold 

their daughter 
Mahitable Mather married Thomas Sill, 

their daughter 
Sarah Sill married Alfred Welles 

and 
Sarah Sill Welles was their daughter 



12 



MEMOR.IBILIA 



Genealogy of Sarah Sill Welles Burt, as Descendant of 
Deputy Governor Francis Willouby. 

William Willouby of Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, 

his son 
Francis Willouby married Margaret Locke Taylor (2nd 
cousin to Queen Elizabeth of England). He was Deputy 
Governor of Massachusetts from 1665 to 1675. 

their daughter 
Susanna Willouby married Judge Nathanial Lynde 

their son \\\ 

Nathaniel Lynde married Sarah Pratt 

their daughter 
Susanna Lynde married Thomas Griswold 

their daughter 
Sarah Griswold married David Fithian Sill 'V 

etc., etc. (See Genealogy by Greenwood-Frothing- 

ham's History Wallinghampshire.) 



Note. — William Willoub\- was commissioner of the British Navy from 
1648 to 1 65 1, when he died. His son, Francis Willouby, came to New Eng- 
land in 1638 and returned to England in 165 1. In 1652 he was appointed 
successor to his father as commissioner of the navy, and in 1658 chosen mem- 
ber of parliament from Portsmouth. In 1662 he returned to New England 
and became Deputy Governor of the Massachusetts Colony in 1665 and con- 
tinued so until his death in 1675. 



13 



1 



MEMORABILIA 



II 



Genealogy of Sarah Sill Welles Burt, as Descendant of 
Matthew Griswold of England. 

Matthew Griswold of Warwickshire (Kennelworth, 
native place) married Anna Wolcot. 
their son 
Matthew (born 1653, died 1699, representative for Say- 
brook often, and for Lyme after division of the town in 1667) 
married Phoebe Hyde 
their son 
Judge John Griswold married Hannah Leigh 

their son 
Thomas Griswold (brother of Gov. Matthew Griswold) 
married Mary Lee 
their son 
Thomas Griswold married Susanna Lynde 

their daughter 
Sarah Griswold married David Fithian Sill, 

etc., etc. (See Savage, Sill and Mather Genealo- 
gies.) 



14 



Preface to Old Silltown 



The contents of this book were collected and arranged by 
Sarah Sill Welles Burt at the expense of much time and patient 
effort. It was her expectation to have them put into book 
form in order that the descendants of the old Sill family might 
thus have the data compact and systematically arranged, that 
their children and their children's children might thus the 
more readily become familiar with the record of their honor- 
able ancestors and themselves be inspired to lead lives worthy 
of such noble progenitors. Owing to the sudden death of 
Sarah Sill Welles Burt this was not accomplished in her life- 
time, but that her efforts may not have been in vain, her pur- 
pose has, in this volume, to the extent of his ability, been car- 
ried out by her son, W. Gfiswold Burt. 

This volume is not intended as a complete genealogy of 
the Sill family. The reader will note that parts of the contents 
are in the nature of personal expressions of appreciation and 
love for those mentioned. The incidents herein related con- 
cern only a very small proportion of the descendants, and are 
recorded here by reason of their special interest to those living 
in this present time. Thus many who have left records of 
good and useful lives remain unmentioned here. The writer 
is indebted to many sources of information for what is related 
here. 






15 



OLD SILLTOJVN 



Many of the items were made memorandum of after hear- 
ing them told by living lips, many of whom have now gone to 
their everlasting rest. Also certain books and records have 
served as authority among which may be mentioned: 
Connecticut Records 1678, Sq., pp. 195-208-21 1. 
Connecticut Records 1689, Sq., pp. 23-33-42-69. 
General Gookins' History of the Praying Indians. 
Hubbard's Narration of the Indian Wars in New England. 
Page's History of Cambridge. 
Increase Mather's History of King Phillip's War. 
George Bodge's Soldiers of King Phillip's Wars. 
Sill Family Genealogy, by George G. Sill and Louisa P. Sill. 
Trumbull's History of Connecticut. 
Old Letters — deeds, Inventories of Estates, etc. 
Knox's Campaigns. 
Connecticut Records at Smithsonian Institute, Washington, 

D. C. 
Shurtleft's History of Boston. 
Orcult's History of Dorchester. 
Salisbury's History and Genealogy. 
Connecticut Colonial Records at Hartford. 
Matthew's American Armory and Blue Book. 
Sill-Treadway Genealogy, by F. S. Sill. 
Genealogy of the Loomis Family. 
Hyde Genealogy. 

Ancient Windsor, Connecticut, by H. R. Stiles. 
Oneida Historical Society Transactions. 
Savage's Genealogy Dictionary. 



16 



OLD SILLTOWN 



m 



Incentivus 



"Our ancestors, a gallant Christian race of every 

virtue, every grace." 

* * * * 

" — There is also a moral and philosophical 
respect for our ancestors, which elevates the 
character and improves the heart. — " 

— Daniel Webster. 

* * * * 

The Divine command to "remember the 
days of old and consider the years of many gene- 
rations" (Deut. 32-7), so oft repeated in varying 
terms in Holy Writ, is an imperative argument 
for the preservation of memorials of the past. 



I 



I 



Ih 



ill 



hi 



I 



17 



xV] 



SILL COAT OF ARMS. 




MOTTO— TAM FIDUS QUAM FIXUS 

"EQUALLY FAITHFUL AS STEADFAST." 



li! 



OLD SILLTOWN 



Crest 

A DEMI GRIFFIN RAMPANT PROPER COLLARD 

ARGENT 

A demi — (one-half) griffin — Symbol of a guardian 
of treasure, or one entrusted. 

Rampant — Showing courage and generosity. 

Proper — i. e. — colored like a mythical griffin, bronze, 
green and glistening. 

Collard argent — silver — (honor and clear con- 
science) . 






W 



Arms 

ARGENT— A FEASE ENGRAVED SABLE IN CHIEF 
"A LION RAMPANT PASSING GULES." 

Argent — Silver, symbolizing honor or a clear con- 
science. 

A fesse engrailed — Indicating the sash or belt of a 
commander. 

Sable — black^ — Meaning fame. 

In chief — or top part of shield. 

A lion — Signifying courage, majesty and strength. 

Rampant passing — or progressive. 

Gules — Red, the royal color, denoting zeal. 



19 







CHAPTER I. 



LOCATION OF SILLTOWN. 



In New London County, Connecticut, on the road leading 
from North Lyme and Hamburg to Old Lyme, there lies be- 
neath the hills an especially charming and fertile valley, em- 
bracing a few hundred acres. 

Its western boundary is Lieutenant River, whose source 
is amidst the hills and whose waters (about a mile and a half 
farther south) mingle with those of the Connecticut River 
before its entrance to Long Island Sound. 

At the east and south of this attractive valley is Mill 
Creek, which, in its turn, flows into the Lieutenant River, and 
thus serves as an outlet for the Great Lake farther north, now 
called Roger's Lake. 

From the Old Lyme Station of the New York, New 
Haven and Hartford Railroad this locality may be reached 
by driving up the main street of Old Lyme, taking the North 
Road, where it diverges from the New London turnpike, 
when on crossing Mill Creek bridge at the foot of the hill one 
arrives at its southern boundary. 

For generations this locality has been known as Silltown. 

It was on this tract of land, nearly surrounded by hills, 
that Captain Joseph Sill settled more than two hundred and 
fifty years ago. He was the son of John Sill of England (First 
Generation). 



20 



IIAMRIIRG 



.,i)iiw...iA.liil«^.w Grossy Mill 

^■^" ' -' LAYSVilJ.H 



^^■z-r^x 



\s 



\\ 



•"'"•'»•■>■' ^,-" ■•' V 















5 ILL TOWN 



y': \^^__J^/"\ 




/ 



// 



/y 



SILL DISTRICT 



//■ 



\ (M,|) 'MAP ol' I!vi() 



II 



ULI) LYMK 



MAP OF SILLTOWN. 



> 



OLD SILLTOPVN 



First Generation 

John Sill of England. 

John Sill of England came to this country with his family 
in the year 1637 and settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 
about eighteen years after the landing of the Pilgrims at Ply- 
mouth, seven years after the settlement of Cambridge was com- 
menced, and the same year in which Harvard College was 
founded. 

Mr. Sill was admitted to the privileges of a freeman at 
Cambridge in the year 1638, and was received as member in 
full communion of the Congregational Society of Cambridge, 
Rev. Thomas Shepherd pastor. 

The earliest genealogist of the family, Henry A. Sill, of 
Cuyahoga Falls, has stated that a tradition in the family was 
that John Sill came from Lyme Regis, Dorchestershire, Eng- 
land. History states this to have been a seaport town located 
on the Linn River, a summer resort of the kings of England, 
a royal manor from the time of Edward the First, and a place 
mentioned in history from "The Doomsday Book" onward. 

The eldest daughter of John Sill, born and baptized in 
England, was Elizabeth, born in 1637, married Zachariah 
Hicks in 1652, died in 1736, according to the gravestone still 
standing in Cambridge. 

A second daughter, born in Cambridge, Mass., married 
Abraham Shepherd, of Maiden, Mass. 



22 






OLD SILLTOWN 



In 1838 John Sill owned property at the corner of Eliot 
and Winthrop streets, and in 1842 he owned a house and 
several acres of land, and in 1845 he had an additional grant 
of land. He was living in 1647, when he was among the 
creditors of a certain estate, and in 1648-9 he was named among 
the proprietors of land in Cambridge, but he died before 1652, 
for at that time his wife is spoken of as a widow. It is prob- 
able that his birth took place in about t6io, in the early years 
of James the First. (See Sill-Treadway Gen., by Frederick 
S. Sill.) 

Mrs. Joanna Sill survived her husband about twenty 
years. She received allotments of land in 1652. (See Paige's 
History of Cambridge.) Her will was presented for probate 
in 1671, so she probably died in that year. (See Sill-Tread- 
way Genealogy.) 

The year in which this young emigrant, John Sill, and his 
wife, Joanna with infant children, came to New England was 
the one in which John Hampden was condemned for resisting 
the levying of ship money. It may well have been that they 
were induced to leave their English home by reason of the 
persecutions which arose at that time, and the trouble, which 
between 1630 and 1640, had led, as Green says, to the sailing 
of two hundred emigrant ships with twenty thousand English- 
men, who sought a refuge in the West. 

Charles the First was then king, and William Laud Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury. 

Milton was the poet of the day. 

The Earl of Strafford w^as Prime Minister. 

It was seventeen years before Oliver Cromwell became 
Lord Protector of England, and twelve before the death of 

23 



OLD SILLTOWN 



Charles. It was the time of great political and religious 
changes, which materially aided the success of the settlement 
of New England. (See Sill-Treadway Gen.) 






24 



V. Z. *' 



CHAPTER II. 

Second Generation 

Joseph Sill, The First. 

Captain Joseph, the only son of John Sill the ist, was 
born in England in 1636, married, in 1660, Jemina Belcher, a 
niece of Lieutenant-Governor Thomas Danford, of Massa- 
chusetts, also aunt to Governor Johnathan Belcher of the same 
state. 

Sons — T Andrew 

2 Joseph 

3 Andrew 

4 Thomas 
Daughters — 5 Jemina 

6 Elizabeth. 

Of these several children born to them two sons are sup- 
posed to have been lost at sea, others were married and left 
descendants. However, the name of Sill became extinct in 
Massachusetts after Joseph, the first removed to Connecticut. 
His wife died in 1675. He later became actively engaged in 
the defense of the colonies, in the suppression of the Northern 
Indians. 

The public records found in the Newberry Library of 
Chicago, Illinois, published by the order of the General Court 
of Massachusetts, states that, "On the roster of officers of the 
first American army as organized for the Narragansett Colony, 
mustered at Pettiguamscot, December 19th, 1665, (General 
Josiah Winslow, Governor of Plymouth Colony, Commander 
in Chief), was the name of Captain Joseph Sill. 

25 



OLD SILLTOWN 



A partial record of his service states that at the outbreak 
of King Phillip's War in 1675 he was a lieutenant. 

In September of that year he was commissioned Captain 
of one hundred men under Major Pynchon. ' In November, by 
order of the Court, he was commissioned Captain of a com- 
pany raised at Charleston, Watertown and Cambridge. Dur- 
ing the whole of this war he rendered valuable service to the 
colonies and was engaged in numerous expeditions, being sent 
as far as Saco, Maine. Among his most famous exploits was 
one at Lancaster, February 21st, in 1675, where he captured 
three hundred Indians, and another where he conducted a long 
train of wagons, bringing the inhabitants of Groton to Boston 
is safety with a single company of troopers, fifty in all, success- 
fully resisting the attacks of the Indians along the route. 

The war closed when King Phillip, that brave son of 
Massasoit, was massacred on August 12th, 1676, by one of his 
own followers while hiding from his enemies in the marshes. 
This locality, near South Kingston, Rhode Island, where the 
fiercest and most decisive battle was fought, where history 
states a thousand Indians were killed and their stronghold 
demolished, has in recent years been marked with a granite 
monument by the inhabitants of the town that the event may 
be commemorated and the locality designated for future gener- 
ations. The monument is visible at a distance, and can be 
seen from the train when passing from Providence to Boston, 
via the Shore Line of the New York, New Haven and Hart- 
ford Railroad. The first attention of the passerby is attracted 
to this locality by signs on the roadside which read thus: "The 
Great Swamp Fight." 

26 



w^ 



OLD SILLTOIFN 



In an old volume, "History of America," by Henry 
Trumbull, published in Norwich in 1810, copy owned by Mr. 
Daniel Ingraham Lay, is recorded on page 62 as follows: 

"On the 1 2th of December, 1679, a party of Indians at- 
tacked and killed several of the inhabitants of Bradford. The 
Governor of Massachusetts Colony, for the protection and 
defense of the inhabitants on the Merrimack, ordered the rais- 
ing and equipping of four companies of cavalry, to the com- 
mand of which were appointed Captains Sill, Holyoke, Cutler 
and Prentis." Thus showing that Captain Sill was called in 
emergencies to come into the service of the colony in command 
of horse as well as foot soldiers. The historical records of his 
service are too lengthy for more than reference here. They 
may be found in Hubbard's Narrative of the Indian Wars in 
New England, Paige's History of Cambridge, Mass., in Gen. 
Gookin's History of Praying Indians, and especiallv in George 
M. Bodge's Soldiers of King Phillips' War. 

Influenced by his friends, who feared lest he might be- 
come the victim of the vengeance of the remaining Indians, 
Captain Sill removed from the Narragansett to the Connecti- 
cut Colony. Before leaving Massachusetts he appealed to the 
General Court of that colony for a grant of land; the original, 
ably drawn petition is in possession of the Boston Historical 
Society. 

George Bodge in his volume. Soldiers of King Phillip's 
War, has introduced a copy of this document as follows : 



27 



^ 



/// 



*^ 



iC«.^ 



OLD SILLTOWN ^ 

'to the honorable general court, assembled at boston^ 
the petition of joseph sill humbly showeth, viz: 

"that your petitioner accounts it a great privilege 
that, from his childhood he hath been trained up and 
hath spent so many of his days under your govern- 
ment, and cannot without singular content and com- 
placency, call to mind that he hath been honored to 
be called forth under your commission to appear in 
the field against your enemies in pursuance of which 
he did accordingly to his mean ability serve you 
faithfully and for length of time and number of ex- 
peditions, may (without ostentation be it spoken) j 
compare with most if not any who were listed in ' 
your service, and accounts no part of his days, next to 
those which have been improved in the immediate 
service of God, so well spent as those which have 
been employed in the service of his country and the 
government, remaining still, devoted in all that he 
hath and still in your service without any selfish 
aims. Yet being well assured that your noble and 
generous inclinations are not inferior to his who ac- 
counted that day lost in which some one or other were 
not benefitted by him nor to his who was displeased 
with such as asked no kindness from him, he must 
confess that he hath some ambition that it may be 
manifested that he is not forgotten amongst those 
that have tasted of your beneficence and humbly 
craves of the honored court that you would please 
grant him a small number of acres of that land which 
hath been recovered from the enemy so that a little 

28 




OLD SILLTOWN 



part of what he hath seen with his eyes and trod 
with his feet in your service, may be committed 
into his hands, and that he may the more comfortably 
share in the blessing of these peaceful days wherein 
man may beat their swords into plow shares, and 
your petitioners shall pray, etc., etc." 

Joseph Sill. 

The Court granted to him the tract of land where now is 
located the town of Salem. This was inherited by his daugh- 
ter Jemima, who married John Hall of Medford, whose 
descendants are now living. 

His removal to Lyme occurred about the time of the di- 
vision of Saybrook, which had occupied both sides of the Con- 
necticut River near its confluence with the Sound. Joseph 
Sill, coming, as tradition states, from Lyme Regis, England, 
and being a landed proprietor, he probably had an influence 
in giving the town the name of Lyme. The settlement of the 
locality commenced in about 1664, and in about 1667 the 
town was incorporated, having thirty families, and able to 
support a minister. The community had enjoyed the serv- 
ices of Rev. Mr. Noyes from 1666, but no church was organ- 
ized until 1693, there not previously having been sufficient 
members to constitute a church. Mr. Noyes died in 1729, 
aged 86 years, having spent 63 years with his people. (See 
Trumbull's History of Connecticut and Sill Genealogy.) 

In 1677 Capt. Joseph Sill married his second wife, Sarah 
Clark Marvin, the widow of Lieutenant Renolds Marvin. 
She was the daughter of George Clark, of Millford, Conn., 

29 



.\^ 



-ii^^Stak.VS^- 



OLD SILLTOWN 



one of the early settlers of that town, who erected a massive 
stone bridge, which still bears his name. 

In an old volume entitled "Colonial History," by John 
W. Barber, published in New Haven, 1830, in page 231 
Joseph Sill is recorded as having been appointed AFTER 
PLANTER in the town of Millford, Conn. By the term 
PLANTER was meant one holding property, and conse- 
quently being recorded as being entitled to a voice in town 
afifairs. The prefix AFTER meaning that other people had 
been recorded before him. 

Captain Sill erected his home in Lyme on one of the hills 
overlooking his farm, having an extended view of the sur- 
rounding country, and a distant view of the Connecticut River 
and Long Island Sound. 

The tax records for those early years, 1677, found in the 
archives of the Newberry Library of Chicago, give Mr. Sill's 
list to be as follows : 

"Two persons i yearling 

housing and lands 10 swine 

6 oxen 3 geldings 
12 cows 2 yearlings 

7 horses Lbs. 143 — 1406 being 1 per 
I gelding cent. 

The grist mills on Mill Lane, and saw mill in Laysville, 
important plants in those days, 1688, in which Captain Sill 
was interested, were managed by him and his descendants. 
Colonel David Fithian Sill of the fifth generation, being prin- 
cipal owner in them, as the inventory of his estate records. 

30 



OLD SILLTOWN 



^ 



■ii 



Aside from his farming interests, Joseph Sill was a pro- 
moter of the interests of the town. He was frequently elected 




THE GRIST MILL. 

to office in Connecticut and was deputy to the General Court 




MILL POND. 

several times in 1686, 169 1 and 1693. He held commissions 
in both Connecticut and Massachusetts. 



31 






I 



1 






OLD SILLTOJVN 



Captain Joseph Sill was sixty years of age at the time of 
his death, which occurred October 6, 1696. His widow sur- 
vived him nineteen years. Savage, the genealogist and his- 
torian, calls him "The distinguished officer," "The Fierce In- 
dian Fighter." George Bodge, compiler and editor of "Sol- 
diers of King Phillip's Wars," devotes an entire chapter to 
his service in the Colonial Wars. 

I give here his quaint old signature in 1688, taken from 

^^^/7^^jf ^*^^.^^ ancient document in the town record 

/y U// d^ at Hamburg, Conn., traced by William 

Marvin, town clerk, from the original as found upon old 

records in connection with a town distribution of land. 

In the early records of the Congregational Society of 
Old Lyme frequent mention is made of Joseph Sill, and in 
the Old Lyme town records of early times, now kept in Ham- 
burg, are recorded transactions with Joseph Sill in transfer 
of land, etc. In town meeting book, under date of March 6, 
1676, Captain Sill is recorded as one of three appointed to 
run the town bounds between Lyme and Haddam. 

The following is taken from a letter written at Lyme, 
Conn., September 28, 1910, and signed by William Marvin, 
Judge of Probate, Town Clerk: 

"The highway which leads past the former residence of 
Colonel Matson was not laid out until 1719, but at that 
time Joseph Sill, Jr., owned land adjoining it on the south. 
It is probable that Joseph Sill, Sr., owned this land 
before his death; it is certain that he owned land east of the 
main highway, north of the millstream and an interest in the 

32 



OLD SILLTOWN 



corn and saw mill, which were very important plants in those 
early days, for the carrying on of which he was given special 
grants by the town. Joseph Sill, Sr., was not as large a land 
holder as his sons, Joseph and Zachariah, who gradually pur- 










GRAVE OF JOSEPH SILL THE FIRST. 
A Marble Slab Above His Tomb with Record of Service. 

chased all of the lands north of the millstream, east of the 
Lieutenant River and southwest of the highway, as well as 
a tract east of the highway, stretching nearly from the mill- 
stream to the Matson cross road. They also owned lands, 
now held by Robert Hall, on the north shore of Lieutenant 
River, as well as tracts on Grassv Hill and Beaver River." 



33 



OLD SILLTOWN 



To those familiar with the country around Old Lyme 
and Silltown the principal point of interest in the above quota- 




tion is contained in the last sentence, which shows that Cap- 
tain Joseph Sill's holdings in lands included part of that 
region now known as the Billy Coult Hills. 



34 



OLD SILLTOWN 



Third Generation 

Third Generation Second Generation First Generation 



111 



Joseph Sill, 2nd John Sill 

Phoebe Lord Joseph Sill, ist r i' 

Zachariah Sill Sarah Clark Marvin ° ', ? 

Elizabeth Mather England 

Captain Joseph Sill, the first settler, by his second mar- 
riage had two sons named Joseph 2nd and Zachariah, who 
were 18 and 14 years of age respectively at the time of their 
father's death. Rev. George Griswold Sill, another historian 
and genealogist of the family, has called them, in a letter to 
his cousins preserved by the family, "The Patriarchs or 
"Heads" of branches of the family. 

From these are descended all the Sills of this country as 
far as are now known. Joseph had twelve children, Zachariah 
six. 

Eighteen children of the name of Sill in the neighbor- 
hood at one time was not unusual, and the same genealogist 
says of these: "Like the Israelites of old, not a feeble one 
among them." Their homes were erected about sixty rods 
apart in Silltown, while some of the later generations built 
farther down the street. The number of families of this name, 
in what was originally the town of Lyme, was eight or ten. 
This locality was then first called Silltown. HI 

The nine sons of these two branches first settled in Sill- 
town, some removing later to other settlements. North Lyme, 
Grassy Hill, Saybrook, Middletown, Windsor, Groton and 
other towns in Connecticut. 

Joseph 2nd and Zachariah were more extensive land 
owners than their father before them, having large holdings 

35 



OLD SILLTOWN 



in Grassy Hill and in different parts of Lyme, also in Ohio 
on Beaver River. 

Joseph 2nd lived for thirty years in the home of his 
father, when he purchased improved lands in North Lyme 
and removed thither in 1733, leaving the homestead to his 
oldest son. Lieutenant John Sill. Joseph Sill was a member 
of the Congregational Church under the ministry of Rev. 
Moses Noyes of Lyme. He died in 1765, aged 88 years. 

Joseph 2nd, married Phoebe Lord, daughter of Lieuten- 
ant Richard Lord of Lyme. Their children were: 

Sons — 

John 
Joseph 
Thomas 
Jabez 
Richard 
Elijah 
Elisha 
Daughters — 

Luce 

Elizabeth 

Phoebe 

Lucy 

Sarah 

Zachariah ist married Elizabeth Mather, daughter of 
Richard Mather of Lyme, niece of Increase Mather of Boston, 
President of Harvard College. Their children were : 



36 



OLD SILLTOWN 



Sons — Andrew 
Zachariah 

David j 

Daughters — Sarah 

Elizabeth I 

Johanna 
The descendants of the two sons (Joseph 2nd and Zacha- 
riah) intermarried with families in Lyme, the Lords, Matsons, 
Noyes, Mathers, Griswolds, Lays and others. 



37 



OLD SILLTOWN 



DESCENDANTS OF JOSEPH SILL THE SECOND. 

Fourth Generation 



First Generation 



Second Generation 



Third Generation 



John Sill 

of 
England 



Joseph Sill 1st 



Joseph Sill and 



Fourth Generation 

John Sill 

Joseph, 3rd 

Thomas 

Jabez 

Richard 

Elijah 

Elijah 

Luce 

Elizabeth 

Phoebe 

Lucy 

Sarah 

Lieutenant John Sill. 

Lieutenant John, born in 1710, the eldest son of Joseph 
2nd, inherited of his father the home on the hill. He was an 
owner of vessels, and when trading along the coast must then 
have met his first wife (he had three). In this way at least 
G. G. Sill, the historian, accounts for his marrying his first 
wife, Phoebe Fithian, of Bridgehampton, Long Island. 

He passed much of his life on the farm where he was 
born. He was a man much loved and respected, was patri- 
otic and loyal, and recorded as being a member of the "trained 
band," which no doubt answered to the militia of the present 
day. 

Lieutenant John Sill was appointed Lieutenant of the 
first company or "trained band'' in the town of Lyme in Oc- 
tober, 1758, by the Colonial Assembly (see Colonial Rec- 
ords of Connecticut, 1757-1762, page 209), and is an accept- 
able ancestor to the "Colonial Society." He died in 1796, 
aged 86 years. 



38 



OLD SILLTOWN 



He was a member of the Congregational Church for 
sixty-three years, having united in 1733, during the ministry 
of Johnathan Parsons. 

His second and third wives were Hepzibah Lee and Lucy 
Peck. There were ten children, six sons and four daughters. 
Sons — 

David Fithian 
Joseph 4th 
John 3rd 
Silas 
Enoch 
Richard 
Daughters — 

Phoebe 
Mary 
Anna 
Sarah 



"Some of these sons were to become famous and take a 
part in the Revolutionary War; indeed daughters, as well as 
sons, had something to do to help on with the War of Inde- 
pendence." 

Joseph Sill the Third. 

Joseph 3rd, second son of Joseph 2nd, erected his home 
across the street from his fathers. His first wife was Ruth 
Matson, a neighbor's daughter. His second wife Azubah 
Lee, in some manner never accounted for, contracted small- 
pox, which resulted in her death. Ten years later her hus- 

39 



\\ 



A 



1 



/// 



OLD SILLTOWN 



\\ 



band died of the same disease in a manner equally mysteri- 
ous. Their graves laid side by side in the lot adjoining the 
one where their home once stood, the spot marked by tablets 
with inscriptions thereon. In 1910 these stones were removed 
to the Sill lot in Lyme cemetery, the fourth generation of 
Sills thus being represented in the old Sill burying ground in 
Old Lyme. Their children were Giles, Nathaniel, William, 
Joseph Lee, Rheubana, Lucy, Ruth, Phoebe, Azubah, 
Phoebe. 

Thomas Sill, Fourth Generation. 

Thomas Sill, third son of Joseph Sill the 2nd, settled in 
Grassy Hill. 

Richard Sill, Fourth Generation. 

Richard Sill, fifth son of Joseph Sill the 2nd, settled in 
Saybrook. 

JABEZ Sill, Fourth Generation. 

Jabez Sill, fourth Son of Joseph Sill the 2nd, settled in 
North Lyme. 

Elisha and Elijah Sill, the youngest sons of Joseph 2nd, 
were graduates of Yale College. Elijah graduated in 1748. 
He studied theology and became a Congregational clergyman, 
and settled at New Fairfield, Connecticut. Elisha graduated 
in 1764. In 1777 Elisha was surgeon in General Wolcot's 
brigade of Connecticut Volunteers. He was present at the 
capture of Burgoyne's army at Saratoga. He was one of the 
magistrates of Litchfield, Conn., for many years, dying at the 
age of 78 years. 

40 



'^ 



OLD SILLTOWN 



Savage, the genealogist and historian, states that eight of 
this enterprising family were graduates of Yale College, then 
located on the shores of Long Island Sound at Saybrook. The 
early history of Yale College, as published in 1893, by Harper 
Brothers, in "Histories of the Four Prominent Universities," 
is of interest. 

It states, "Yale was founded at the beginning of the last 
century along the shores of Long Island Sound. For many 
years it was difficult to say what it was or where it belonged. 
It was a "Collegeiate School" and was established (Dr. Cary 
states in his "Historic Memorial Discourse of the First Con- 
gregational Church of Lyme," in 1870) by a young man. Rev. 
James Pierpont of New Haven. The General Assembly of 
Connecticut was afraid to attract the notice of England to any 
undertaking of this kind. Such notice would have cost the 
college its charter. Its teaching force did not at first receive 
the names of President and Professor, but was obliged to con- 
tent itself with Rector and Tutor. The Rector lived at Mil- 
ford, the Tutors, at Saybrook; the senior class at the former 
place, and the professors' class at the latter. It was not till the 
removal of the school to New Haven in 1706 that it success- 
fully attained a local habitation and a name." 



\\\ 



ill 



41 



OLD SILLTOWN 



DESCENDANTS OF JOSEPH SILL, THE SECOND, 
, . THROUGH HIS FIRST SON, JOHN SILL. 

5'! 

Fifth Generation 

David Fithian Sill. 
/// David Fithian Sill, oldest son of Lieutenant John Sill, 

served his country at intervals over a period of twenty-one 
l years. He w^as born in 1733, and served in the French and 
Indian Wars. He received a commission from Governor 
Fitch, of Connecticut, in 1759 as lieutenant in the reign of 
of George Second, and was in service on Lake George and at 
Crown Point, and took the first French prisoner at the open- 
ing of the campaign. In 1760 he reinlisted in the army, went 
up the Mohawk River with Lord Amherst and to Oswego, 
from thence to Oswegatchie (now Ogdensburg), was with 
Commodore Loring on board the Onondaga at the attack on 
Isle Royal. He descended the St. Lawrence River with the 
army to Montreal, where the French surrendered to Lord 
Amherst. The war closed and Lieutenant David Fithian Sill 
returned to his native town. 

i^r^ He then married, in 1760, Sarah Griswold, daughter of 

Deacon Thomas Griswold, brother of Governor Matthew 
Griswold, of Black Hall, Conn. Her mother was Susanna 
Lynde, of Saybrook, daughter of Judge Nathaniel Lynde. In 
an article recently published on the treasurers of Yale College, 
it was stated that Judge Lynde was the first treasurer of Yale, 
"Custodian of the Keys of the Treasury" in 1701, then located 
at Saybrook. 



42 



% 



OLD SILLTOWN 



Again, in 1775, Lieutenant David Fithian Sill entered the 
Continental Army. He commanded a company of one hun- 
dred men raised in three days in Lyme, and marched to Rox- 
bury near Boston. In 1776 he proceeded with the army in 
their campaign against Lord Howe, who, with the British 
force was located in and near New York City. A letter writ- 
ten by him dated from New York in August, 1776, is preserved 
by the author, in which he states as follows: 

"I am well, though 'tis sickly here. I cannot write anything 
concerning affairs here, only to say that we expect an attack within 
three or four days at the farthest. General Howe has about fifteen 
thousand troops ; we have a much superior number, though many are 
sick, however, we think there is enough to engross him." 

He soon rose to the post of Lieuten- 
ant Colonel of the First Continental Line, 
and served in the Revolutionary War 
under his uncle. General Samuel Holden 
Parsons, also under Jedidiah Huntington. 
After the war Colonel Sill was frequently 
elected to the Legislature, and held the 
office of Justice of the Peace and Town 
Clerk for fifty years. 

He was a charter member of the 
"Society of the Cincinnati," that depleted 
band of army oflicers of the Continental 
Army, which gathered on the banks of the Hudson at General 
Baron von Steuben's headquarters (that brave Prussian officer) 
in the old Verplank house at Fishkill, which is still standing 
and preserved by the Sons and daughters of the American 
Revolution, and there formed a society to promote the prin- 
ciples as stated below. 




43 



OLD SILLTOfFN 



This society, named from the distinguished Roman, Lu- 
cius Quintus Cincinnatus, adopted these principles as its basis: 

First. An increased devotion to preserve inviolate the ex- 
alted rights and liberties of human nature, for which they had 
fought and bled. 

Second. An unalterable determination to promote and 
cherish between the respective states union and national honor. 

Third. To render permanent the cordial affection ex- 
isting among the officers, to cultivate brotherly kindness and 
substantial acts of beneficence towards the officers and their 
families." 

Some of the commissions of Colonel David Fithian Sill 
have been lost, but two are preserved ; one, which was signed 
by Governor Fitch, of Connecticut, and yvas given in the 33rd 
year of the reign of his Majesty, King George 2nd, 1759, and 
was in the possession of Nettie Sill, of Oklahoma, not a lineal 
descendant, who lately has donated it to the Historical So- 
ciety of the city of Oklahoma; the other in the possession of 
W. Griswold Burt, of Evanston, a great grandson, which was 
signed by Governor John Trumbull, of Connecticut. 

His powder horn and gun, carried through the war, are 
preserved. John Sill, of Ashtabula, Ohio, a great grandson, 
who has the former, states in a letter that his father informed 
him before his death that it was made and given to Colonel 
Sill by an Indian scout and is a relic of the French War in 
1759 and 1760. It has drawn on its surface maps and names 
of places in the eastern part of New York state and the western 
part of Massachusetts and Connecticut. The gun is owned by 

44 




.^ 




IS, '" 

X .-•"•■"'.v.vv 



. , ,>m \>^"'' '-'^ ■ '. ./ 








\.\ 



^ 



CAPT. DAVID FITHIAN SILL'S POWDER HORN. 



Note-This is a Very Poor Dra^^•ing. ^The g^^^'^"g "" 



the Horn Itself is Wonderfully 



OLD SILLTOWN 



a great grandson, W. G. Burt, Evanston, 111. George Bodge, 
the historian, says this pattern of gun was called a 
"Snapance." 

Colonel David Fithian Sill's service in connection with 
the war of the Revolution began at the very start of the trouble, 
as indicated by records in the adjutant general's office at Hart- 
ford. The following letters briefly specify of his services: 

STATE OF CONNECTICUT. 

Adjutant General's Office. 

Hartford, Oct. 14, 1892. 

Mrs. Sarah Wells Burt— 
Madam: — 

This may certify that the name of David F. Sill appears 
on the record in this office as Lieutenant in Captain Joseph 
Jewett's company, Lexington Alarm list, town of Lyme, 
served nine days. 

Next appears as Captain ist company 6th Continental 
Regiment. Commissioned May ist, discharged December 
loth, 1775, re-entered service in 1776. 

Next appears as Captain loth Continental Regiment, re- 
organized from the 6th Continental Regiment, for the year 
1776. 

Next appears as Lieutenant-Col. ist Regiment Conn., 
line. Commissioned Major January ist, 1777. Promoted to 
Lieutenant-Col., commission dated March 13th, i778^paid 
from March 5th — continued in '81. 

46 



OLD SILLTOWN 



Next appears in Connecticut Cincinnati Society, 1783, as 
Lieutenant-Colonel from Lyme. Time of service, May 5th, 
1778, to October, '80. No records in this office as early as 
1759. These might be found in Colonial History. 

Very respectfully, 

Wm. H. Tubes, 
Asst. Adjt. Genl. 

NATIONAL SOCIETY SONS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. 

Smithsonian Institution. 

Washington, D. C, Sept. 27, 1892. 

Dear Madam: — 

Mrs. Keim has referred to me your letter of inquiry con- 
cerning service in the Revolutionary War by David Fithian 
Sill, of Lyme, Conn. I have examined the official record of 
Connecticut men in the Revolution as published by the state 
and find that David Fithian Sill w^as Lieutenant of the Lyme 
company called out at the time of the Lexington Alarm in 
April, 1775. On May i, 1775, he was commissioned Captain 
of ijt Company, 6th Continental Regiment of Connecticut, 
under Colonel Samuel Holden Parsons, serving during siege 
of Boston. He was mustered out of service December 10, 
1775, and re-entered in 1776 as Captain in Colonel Parsons' 
loth Continental Regiment of Connecticut as re-organized; 
this regiment marched with Washington's command to New 
York and served in Battle of Long Island, etc. In January, 
1777, he was commissioned Major of ist Regiment Connecti- 



47 



/// 



OLD SILLTOWN 



cut Continental Line, under Colonel Jedidiah Huntington, 
and promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel on March 13, 1778, serv- 
ing until October, 178 1. He is enrolled as a member of the 
Society of the Cincinnati in Connecticut. 

It is probable that other detailed record of service may be 
obtained if you write to the Adjutant General of Connecticut 
at Hartford. 

I hope that the above information may prove interesting 
to you and will gladly render further assistance in preserving 
the memory of such a soldier. 

Very truly yours, 

A. Howard Clark, 
Secretary-General Sons American Revolution. 

Mrs. Sarah Welles Burt, 
1723 Chicago, Ave., 

Evanston, 111. 



Lieutenant-Colonel David Fithian Sill died in 1813 at 
the age of eighty. He was extensively known throughout the 
state and designated Colonel Sill. 

The following obituary appeared in the "Connecticut 
Gazette," printed in New London the week after his death. 
It is supposed to have been written by Judge John Griswold, 
of Black Hall: 

"Died at Silltown, Lyme, the 9th of January, 18 13, 
Colonel David Fithian Sill, Town Clerk, aged 80 years, an 
officer of the Revolutionary War. He possessed a clear head 
and a sound heart, was brave almost to temerity, yet prudent 

48 



OLD SILLTOWN 



as brave, possessed the frankness of the officer and the suavity 
of the gentleman, with a mind peculiarly adapted to business. 
He received all the honors of office his native town could be- i 
stow, and having lived a life of usefulness to the last, was 
gathered to his fathers among the regrets and respect of his 
numerous relatives and friends." 

The Colonel's wife died in 1815. Their children were: 
Thomas John David Mary Louis k\\ 

George Griswold Sill, historian of the family, was inter- 
ested in having a monument erected to the memory of this 
distinguished officer and ancestor. He said, "there were none 
in the cemetery who deserved this remembrance more than 
he," a brave defender of his country, yet there is but a simple 
tablet with inscription to mark his grave. He was not known 
as "David Fithian," but all over the state as "Colonel Sill." 



49 



m 



\\\ 






J 



4 



ID 



OLD SILLTOWN 



DESCENDANTS OF JOSEPH SILL THE SECOND. 

Fifth Generation 

Richard Sill. 

Another Revolutionary soldier was Richard Sill, fifth 
son of Lieutenant John, who graduated from Yale College in 

1775. He entered the Continental Army as Lieutenant in 

1776, was on Long Island at the time of the battle there and 
was with the army at King's Bridge. He spent the winter 
with the army at Valley Forge. In 1782 he was appointed 
Aide-de-camp to the American General, Lord Sterling. He 
was known as Major Sill and was in the American Army 
from 1876 to close of war. After the war he studied law with 
Aaron Burr and settled in the practice of that profession at 
Albany, N. Y. Tradition says he was one of the council to 
try Andre. 

He was Counselor of Law for the County of Albany, and 
Representative of the General Assembly of New York. He 
married the daughter of Colonel Francis Nicol, of Bethlehem, 
N. Y., a worthy gentleman who adopted him as his own son. 

Their sons were William Nicol Sill, who married Mar- 
garet Mather, daughter of Samuel Mather of Lyme, and John 
Lee Sill, who married Abigail Leverett Noyes, daughter of 
William Noyes, Esq., of Lyme, who built and occupied the 
Colonial home now owned by Miss Florence Griswold. John 
Lee Sill, his son-in-law, built the original of the residence on 
Lyme street, now owned and occupied by Joseph Huntington, 
Esq. 

so 



OLD SILLTOWN 



Failing in health, Mr. Richard Sill had a keen desire to 
see some of his own family, and so sent for his father in Lyme 
to come and visit him. However, before the day had passed 
he was taken worse and died in a few hours. Ill 

His death occurred June 4th, 1790, in the 34th year of his 
age. There were many eulogies of him at the time of his 
death. V\ 

The following notice is from the Albany Gazette of June 
7th, 1790: 

"On Friday afternoon at three o'clock departed this life 
at Bethlehem, the seat of Col. Francis Nicol, in the 34th 
year of his age, Richard Sill, Esq., counselor at law and Rep- 
resentative to the general assembly of this state for the County 
of Albany, and yesterday his remains were interred in the 
family burying ground at that place, attended by a number of 
his connections and friends from this city. It would be a piece 
of injustice not to observe on this occasion that, independent 
of the services of this gentleman in the army of the United 
States during the late war, his good sense, affable manner and 
amiable disposition, added to the strictest integrity in public 
as well as private life, render his character in the highest de- 
gree respectable and his death a public misfortune as well as 
a most distressing loss." 

Richard Sill's descendants intermarried with the early 
families of Albany, N. Y. ; Van Renslers, Ludlows, Russels 
and Livingstons. 

In 1854 ^^r- Geo. G. Sill wrote as follows: 



51 



/// 



OLD SILLTOWN 



"In 1804 his sons, William Nicol Sill and John Lee 
Sill, of Albany, came to Silltown to hunt up their cousins, and 
were highly pleased with their visit. At that time their 
father's three brothers and two sisters were living and every- 
body seemed glad to see them for their father's sake, as he was 
one of the few men of whom it might be said "he was univers- 
ally beloved." 

A descendant of Richard Sill, of the American Revolu- 
tion, through his son, William Nicol Sill, is Mr. Howard 
Sill, a prominent architect of Baltimore, Md. He is eligible 
in eighteen different lines, and is an active member of the 
Society of Colonial Wars. He has collected much historical 
data concerning the achievements of his Colonial ancestors. 



52 






OLD SILLTOWN 



John Sill, the Third. 
John Sill, the 3rd (who was son of Lieutenant John, the 
2nd), was the ancestor (through his son, Henry Sill), of Lieu- 
tenant-Governor George Griswold Sill, of Hartford, Conn. 
He (John Sill, the 3d), married Elizabeth Griswold, daugh- 
ter of Mr. George Griswold, sister of George and Nathaniel 
Griswold, of New York City. For an account of the above 
mentioned Lieutenant-Governor George Griswold Sill see 7th 
generation. fjlj, 



53 



,W 



Is 
I 



1 



^:5^ 



OLD SILLTOWN 



Silas Sill and His Sons. 

Silas Sill, fourth son of Lieutenant John, built his home 
on Sill lands near the entrance to Hamburg Road. His wife 
was Hannah Griswold, of Giant's Neck, daughter of Rev. 
George Griswold and sister of George and Nathaniel Gris- 




SILAS SILL'S HOME, BUILT IN 1786. 

wold, successful merchants in New York City in the line of 
ship chandlery. 

His three sons were: Richard, George and Horace. 
Richard removed to Albany and became a successful mer- 
chant. He died young at the age of 29 years. It is recorded 
of him that his strict attention to business, his exemplary moral 
deportment obtained for him the esteem of all his acquaint- 
ances, and there was none that knew him but greatly lamented 
his loss. 



54 



OLD SILLTOWN 



George Sill, Second Son of Silas Sill, 

Of Silltown, became a clergyman of the Dutch Reformed 
church. A genealogy and history of the Sill family, which 
he compiled was, after his death, published by his daughter 
in 1859, Mrs. Louise Sill Betts, now of Denver, Colo. The 
author is indebted to this genealogy for much guidance in se- 
curing incidents related in this book- 
It is recorded that "Mr. George S. Sill was a man of large 
frame and vigorous constitution, genial temperament and a 
heart empty of selfishness, full of warm sympathy and good 




HOME OF HORACE SILL IN 1858. 

will towards all mankind. He seemed more desirous of 
'growing heavenward' than of growing rich, and has doubt- 

55 



OLD SILLTOWN 



less found his recompense better than gold or silver. He was 
remarkable for his power of memory. His last end was peace." 

He died at the home of Mr. Horace Sill (his brother), 
Lyme, Conn., May 20th, 1859, aged 58 years, and interment 
was in the Lyme cemetery. 

Horace Sill, Third Son of Silas Sill. 

Horace Sill, 3rd son of Silas Sill, engaged in business in 
New York with his uncles, George and Nathaniel Griswold, 
in 1853. In 1858 he removed to Lyme, purchasing Mr. John 
Hart's homestead, where he remained till his death. The 
death of an only son, Richard Griswold Sill, aged 10 years, in 
1853, who was drowned in the Connecticut River, was a seri- 
ous blow to both him and Mrs. Sill, from which they never 
recovered. Mrs. Sill survived the death of her husband 
several years. 



56 



OLD SILLTOWN 



DESCENDANTS OF JOSEPH SILL, THE SECOND. 

Sixth Generation 



1st Generation 2nd Generation 3rd Generation 4th Generation 



John 

Sill 

of 

England 



Joseph 
Sill 
the 
First 



Joseph 
Sill 
the 

Second 



Lieutenant 
John 
Sill 



5th Generation 


6th Generation 




Sons: 


David 


Thomas 


Fithian 


John 


Sill 


David 


and 


Daughters: 


Sarah 


Mary 


Griswold 


Louise 



Two sons of David Fithian Sill died young — David in 
infancy, John by drowning. His two daughters married Mat- 
sons, Louise married David Matson and Mary married Dea- 
con Nathanial Matson. This latter union was strongly op- 
posed by their parents; for what 
reason is not known. But Na- 
thanial and Mary were obdu- 
rate. The deacon placed a lad- 
der at the window and Mary 
availed herself of this means of 
escape and they were married. 
Her high rufifed cap, the 
fashion of those days, and beau- 
tiful gown of the style now 
known as empire, ornamented 
with a tasteful ribbon bow at the 
waist, was most becoming, en- 
hancing the beauty of her bright, 
youthful countenance, as is 
evidenced in her portrait still 
preserved by a grand-nephew, George Sill Welles, of Park 
Ridge, 111. 

57 




MARY (POLLY) SILL 



Ik 



OLD SILLTOPVN 



Tho 



mas 



Sill. 



Thomas Sill was the only surviving child of Colonel 
David Fithian Sill. He inherited his father's estate and pur- 
chased lands of the other Sills as they removed to other towns 
and states. He was born in 1769, erected his commodious 
dwelling on inherited land near where his father's stood, situ- 




HOME OF CAPT. THOMAS SILL, BUILT IN 1799— WINTER VIEW. 

ated at a slight bend in the road leading up the hill in Sill- 
town. This Colonial mansion, now more than a hundred 
years old, is still standing and in a good state of preservation. 
It is said to have been built by ship carpenters. The floors of 



58 



OLD SILLTOWN 



this house are of solid oak planks, short in length; the outer 
doors divided, built after the Dutch style of architecture; the 
lintels grooved in the columns and otherwise ornamented in 
fret work. The tall, stately elms, maples, horsechestnuts and 
catalpa trees adorning the lawn, have now grown to such enor- Ilk 
mous size and their branches so wide-spreading that driving « 
up the main road in summer one scarcely discerns the stately 
old colonial mansion. 

Into this attractive home Captain Sill took his bride in 
1799. She was the daughter of Samuel Mather, of Lyme, and 
was the namesake of her aunt, Mehitable Mather, her father's 
sister, who married that distinguished Revolutionary officer 
of the First Continental Line, Major-General Samuel Holden 
Parsons, whom the family records state, lost his life when 
visiting the Connecticut Western Reserve Lands in Ohio, 
where he was accidentally drowned in the Big Beaver River, 
and was buried on its banks near its confluence with the Ohio. 
It is not known if his grave is marked with even a tablet or 
inscription, much less a monument suitable to his rank as an 
officer. Investigation does not discover his last resting place. 
In the family lot at Middleton, Ohio, is erected a monument 
to his memory with inscription of his service to his country. 

Mrs. Sill was a grand-daughter of Deacon Thomas Gris- 
wold, son of Judge John, a descendant of the first Matthew 
Griswold, who married Anna Wolcott. She was, through her 
father, a descendant of Rev. Richard Mather, of Dorchester, lli 
Mass., who came (history says) to this country on the ship 
"Angel Gabriel," from Toxeth Park, England, to escape re- 
ligious persecution. 



59 



# 



OLD SILLTOWN 



I 



Mrs. Sill's father, Samuel Mather, had become wealthy 
through his trade with the West Indies, exchanging home 
products for the products of the Islands. Her wedding dowry 
of $30,000 was a fortune in those days. Her trousseau was 
elaborate and costly. It included rich silk gowns with high 
healed slippers to match, high back-combs, beaded bags, fans 
and many accessories of dress. Some of these were preserved 
by her daughters, Misses Nancy and Mary Sill, even to the 
advent of her grandchildren who, when visiting the home- 
stead, were interested in studying their style and listening to 
tales of this dear grandmother long since passed away. 

She left her young and numerous family at the age of 
forty-one years. These young housekeepers, not knowing the 
value of old documents, laid away in the attic for preserva- 





■| 




H 


iiiiSMili 


|» ttj 





SAMUEL MATHER HOMESTEAD, OLD LYME. 

tion, destroyed deeds and grants of lands, given by the Na- 
hantic and Pequoit Indians, the original occupants of this 
region, which would be highly valued at the present time. 
Old household effects and jewels, preserved by the loving 



60 



OLD SILLTOWN 



aunts and handed down through generations, proved the de- 
scendants' connection with early ancestors four generations 
and more back, establishing eligibility to membership in the 
Societies of the Colonial Sires and Dames of America, should 
they so desire. ij 

The author remembers seeing the old Franklin stoves 
stored in the barn of her grandfather, that were in use long 
before her time in her grandfather's home. There were large 
and small pewter platters, which must have been in possession 
of our ancestors brought from foreign lands; the old Dutch 
clock is still preserved by a great-granddaughter; there were 
also high-post bedsteads, now so much valued, high boys, 
which were later converted into modern bureaus and dressers. 
There were also tusters for high-post bedsteads in the attic 
used by our grandmother, Mrs. Thomas Sill. There were 
draped hangings of English cretonne cloths in varied color- 
ings, with landscapes and beautiful birds in decoration. In 
the upper hallway of Captain Sill's home was a portrait of a 
colored boy painted on wood. A grandson of Captain Thomas 
Sill tells the author his Aunt Mary (Mrs. Mary Sill, daughter 
of Captain Thomas) said this was a likeness of a slave boy 
named Daniel, a descendant of a slave owned by Lieutenant 
John (Fourth Generation), who had been owned and brought 
up by the family. He was drowned in an attempt to save one /// 
of the younger members of the Sill family who fell overboard 
from a scow in the river, which was bringing hay from the 
salt meadows. This portrait was painted by William Ban- ,,, 
ning, of Laysville. \\\ 

Captain Thomas Sill was a genial companion, generous 
hearted, a man of strict integrity. He inherited the patriotism 



6i 



III 



OLD SILLTOWN 



of his father, Colonel David Fithian Sill; was Captain in the 
State Militia. It was in the spacious front upper chamber 
of his home that he entertained his company of one hundred 
men when they met for consultation in the interests of this 
organization. The floor of this apartment has ever since been 
sunken from their weight. 




HOME OF THOMAS SILL. 
View From Farm Yard. 



The following pictures were taken after alteration of 
the home. The Colonial entrance has been lost by the large 
porch addition — rear buildings have been torn down. 



62 



OLD SILLTOWN 



Captain Thomas Sill was a Mason. His Masonic apron 
is still preserved by a great-grandson, William Griswold Burt, 
of Chicago and Evanston, III. 

He led principally an agricultural life, cultivating his 
farm in Silltown and in Black Hall. Both Mr. and Mrs. 
Sill were owners in the Connecticut Western Reserve Lands, 
a tract lOO miles in width. This he visited on horseback be- 
fore railroads were in existence. A letter written by Mr. 
Thomas Sill from Warren, Ohio, in 1821, to his wife at the 



^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^■^milM .11 |l"ili.^|^|H 



HOME OF CAPT. THOMAS SILL. 
View From Main Street. 

time of his trip to his Western Reserve Lands is now in the 
possession of William Griswold Burt. In this letter he speaks 
of the difficulty of realizing any money on the sale of any of 
these lands. 

In a late memorial of William C. Young, of New York 
City, a civil engineer, one of the early surveyors and promo- 
ters of railroads in this country, who also developed plans with 
others for the Groton Water Works of that citv, is an account 



h 



63 



lU 



OLD SILLTOWN 



of the Connecticut Reserve Lands, which I quote. He pur- 
chased five thousand acres himself, and laid the foundations 
of the city now named after him, "Youngstown." 

CONNECTICUT WESTERN RESERVE LANDS. 

"A proper understanding of this strange mingling of 
Connecticut and Ohio involves a bit of Colonial history which 
is very interesting and but little known. In 1662 King Charles 
II granted a charter to the Connecticut Colony. The limits 
of this colony were to be bounded by Massachusetts on the 
north, Long Island Sound on the south, Narragansett River 
on the east, and the Pacific Ocean on the west; virtually a 
strip of territory less than 100 miles wide, running like a nar- 
row ribbon right across the continent. It is amusing to lay 
this bit of ancient history upon a modern map and find Chi- 
cago within the Connecticut limits. Salt Lake swallowed, 
until crossing the Sierra Nevadas and California the Pacific 
boundary is reached. There was a long controversy in rela- 
tion to this claim, which was finally settled by the assigning 
by Connecticut to the United States of all lands west of Penn- 
sylvania, reserving only a tract 120 miles long and a mean of 
50 miles wide between Lake Erie and the 41st parallel of lati- 
tude. This tract was known as the "Connecticut Western 
Reserve." 

Mrs. Thomas Sill, whose maiden name was Mahitable 
Mather, daughter of Samuel Mather, of Lyme, was also de- 
scended, through her father, from Major General Humphrey 
Atherton, of the Continental Army of 1665, whose daughter, 
Catherine Atherton, married the son of Rev. Richard Mather 



64 




A 1?.H ^ MASONIC APRON OWNED BY CAPT. THOMAS SILL. 

A Reduced Copy. Original ,s in Bright Colors-Gold and Silver on Fine Sheep Skin. 



OLD SILLTOWN 



and removed to Lyme, they being some of the first settlers. 
Major-General Humphrey Atherton, whose accidental death 
occurred when reviewing his troops on Boston Common, was 
noted for his bravery. Shurtcliff's history of Boston says of 
him, "He was a man of considerable importance in the colony, 
having held important offices and at the time of his death 
being an incumbent of the highest military position in Massa- 
chusetts. Orcult's History of Dorchester says of him: 

"He was energetic and firm in character. As an incident 
illustrating his great courage and presence of mind, he was 
sent to Percassuss, an Indian Sachem, with twenty men to de- 
mand three hundred fathoms of wampum. Percassuss refused 
to allow him to come into his presence. Finally Atherton led 
his men to the wigwam of Percassuss and entered himself, 
pistol in hand, seized Percassuss by the hair and dragged him 
out, threatening to kill the first man who interfered. He may 
be said to have died in the service of his country for, return- 
ing home on September i6th, 1661, from Boston Common, 
where he had been reviewing his troups, he was thrown from 
his horse and killed instantly." 

He was buried with great pomp and ceremony. His 
epitaph is carefully cut upon the marble tablet resting on the 
sarcophagus in which his body is entombed, under the image 
of a naked sword, an emblem of the highest honor. The fol- 
lowing epitaph is placed upon his tablet: 



66 



r 



OLD SILLTOWN 




'^^^ 



''major-general HUMPHREY ATHERTON. 

"Here lyes our Captaine and Major of Suffolk was withall 
A Godly magistrate was he and Major-General 
Two troups of hors with hime here came 

Such worth his love did crave. 
Ten companyes of foot also movering 

Marched to his grave. 
Let all that read be sure to keep the faith as he hath done. 
With Christ he lives, now crowned his name 

was Humphrey Atherton. 

He dyed the i6th of September, 1661." 

Thomas Sill died in 1852. His children were Phoebe, 
John, Margaret, Nancy, Henry, Sarah, Mary, and Francis. 

In 1853 Mr. Oliver Lay and Mr. Israel Matson, who 
had been appointed as distributors of Mr. Thomas Sill's estate, 
drew off and retained copies of Mr. Thomas Sill's will, of the 
inventory of his estate, of the administration account as proved 
and allowed, of the expense account of H. M. Waite for ex- 
penses made in settling the estate and a copy of the record 
of distribution of the estate as made by the distributors. These 



67 



\A 



OLD SILLTOWN 



copies, by reason of the kindness of Mr. Daniel Lay, of Layes- 
ville, are now in the possession of Mr. W. Griswold Burt, of 
Evanston and Chicago, 111. It is interesting to note the care, 
the neatness and the exactness with which these papers were 
prepared. 

The western boundary of the old Sill farm, operated by 
Captain Thomas Sill, was the Lieutenant River, which was 







•«*■ 



VIEW OF LIEUTENANT RIVER AT TilE SILL LANULNoS. 

at that time navigable at high tide as far up as his farm by 
small vessels. There were three landings on Captain Sill's 
shores, known as the Board Landing, the Hay Landing and 
the Log Landing. An old resident of Lyme, the late Captain 
John Lester, stated in 1907 that he remembered when these 
vessels were built across the river from Mr. Sill's farm, for use 
in the Coast Trading in which the Sills were owners, and his 



r ^. 



OLD SILLTOWN 



father had stated that the Connecticut River shad were caught 
as far up Lieutenant River as Log Landing, and that a fish- 
house was once situated there. 

George Griswold Sill states, in a letter to one of his cous- 
ins, that immense logs were floated down the Connecticut 
River from New Hampshire and Vermont and up the Lieu- 
tenant River to the Log Landing and from there conveved 




VIEW OF LIEUTENANT RIVER AT THE SILL LANDINGS. 

overland to the saw mills located farther north, where Lays- 
ville now stands. They were there converted into building 
material and brought back to Board Landing and from there 
shipped to Long Island and other points along the Sound. He 
also tells of a grove (which has long since been cut down) on 
a knoll overlooking the river, then called Harmony Grove, 
where the family held their reunions and 4th of July celebra- 

69 



OLD SILLTOWN 



tions in which he, as a boy, participated. Frequently Indian 
arrow heads have been turned up when plowing, thus indi- 
cating that Indians traversed this land. 

The long range of high hills, covered with dense forests, 
which border the Lieutenant River on its western shore, are 
also recorded in the town records of Hamburg as having been 
Captain Thomas Sill's possessions. Their reflections in the 
waters of the river form an attractive back-ground for this 
secluded spot. Now, as then, the eagles and fish-hawks here 
have their eyries in the tall treetops and hover over the river 
watching for their prey, seizing it in their talons and bearing it 
away, even as they did in the days of old Silltown. A few years 
ago a descendant of Captain Sill shot one of these huge birds 
which measured within two inches of six feet from tip to tip. 
In recent years these hills on the western shores of Lieutenant 
River have been in the possession of Wm. Coult, and are now 
generally spoken of as the "Billy Coult Hills," but they are 
now mostly owned by Mr. Robert Hall. Mr. George Gris- 
wold Sill, in a letter to Mrs. Mary Sill, has said, "But ancient 
Silltown is an interesting place when we go back in imagina- 
tion and look at the people who lived in those early days. 
Many are the changes that have taken place since those days, 
but no changes can deprive old Silltown of its history." 



70 



OLD SILLTOWN 



r 

DESCENDANTS OF JOSEPH SILL, THE SECOND. / 

Seventh Generation 

John Sill, son of Thomas Sill, left descendants. His old- 
est son and namesake, John Sill, served in the Civil War in 
America and resided on a portion of the Western Reserve 
Lands in Ashtabula, Ohio. 

Henry Sill, son of Thomas Sill, died at the age of 22 
years, is recorded as having been a talented young man. He 
gave promises of a brilliant future and was a student and an 
able writer. He was a great favorite with his sisters Mary 
and Nancy. Mary Sill always believed that he was not actu- 
ally dead at the time he was buried, that he was in a deep 
stupor and that he was in reality actually buried alive. Mary 
Sill's belief in this could never be dislodged. His last illness 
was yellow fever, for which he was given the then customary 
treatment of severe bleeding. ,ki 

Miss Nancy Sill, fourth child of Captain Thomas Sill, 
was possessed of a quiet, retiring, modest nature, who was ex- 
ceptionally gracious and always devoted to the poor, who ever 
found in her their benefactor. She was a devoted disciple 
of her Divine Master. She died in 1852; she had never been 
married and lived, in company with her sister. Miss Mary 
Sill, in the old family homestead of her father. \.. 



;^>^ 



71 



OLD SILLTOWN 



Mary Sill. 

As above stated, Mary Sill had lived in the old house erected 
by Mr. Thomas Sill, with her sister, Nancy Sill, and after her 
sister's death, for many years she lived here alone with an at- 
tendant, during which time she superintended the management 
of her properties. She married Mr. Schadrach Sill, of Grassy 
Hill, a distant connection and descendant of the Thomas Sill 
(fourth generation) branch of the family. An old letter 
states, "On the occasion of her wedding she was attended by 
a few intimate friends and her pastor, Mr. and Mrs. Brain- 
ard. A small reception was held at her home, where she re- 
ceived the congratulations of her friends." Mr. Sill lived 
only four years, and again Mary Sill was left alone in the old 
home of her father. Here she lived with her servant to the 
ripe old age of ninety-one years, surviving all her brothers and 
sisters. The beautiful tribute to her, published in the Lyme 
paper by Bishop Sabine, of New York and Lyme, so perfectly 
described her that we quote it here below: 

"Mrs. Mary Sill, whose death we chronicled in our last issue, 
was a life-long resident of this town. 

"It is an interesting fact she was born, lived and died in the 
same dwelling which had been owned and occupied by her father 
and with which we are so familiar. There are very few persons of 
whom it can be said in our country, with its constantly increasing 
and rapidly changing population that for nearly a century they found 
a home in one house. 

"Mrs. Sill, being born in i8i2, was upwards of 91 at the time 
of her death. She was a daughter of Captain Thomas Sill and a 
descendant of the noted Mather family. She was religiously brought 
up and the results of early training were apparent through her use- 

72 



OLD SILLTOPVN 



ful life. She united with the Congregational Church here at an 
early age, in which she retained her membership until the last. 

"We may not close this notice of a long and well-spent life 
without a word of its kindness and Christian character. Mrs. Sill 
was no half-hearted servant of her Divine Master. She was gener- 
ously concerned for the welfare of those about her. Many acts of 
kindness testified to this concern. As to her faith in God, in Christ, 
in her Bible, in prayer, it was clear, simple, firm, strong, and thus 
was the source of much that was good and beautiful in her attractive 




MARY SILL. 

character. Her smile was a benediction and her sweet and kindly 
face will not soon be forgotten by those who had come to know and 
love her. 

"She was most decided in her Christian character and zeal. So 
has passed to her eternal reward and rest one for whose life and 
example our town may be grateful and whose memory should be long 
cherished among us with loving respect." 



V*''*' 



^'.\ *» 



^w 



r 



73 



OLD SILLTOWN 



III 



The following is taken from "In Memoriam" of Mary 
Sill, published by Sarah Sill Welles Burt: 

"Mary Sill was educated at Mrs. Phoebe Noyes' private home 
school at Norwich and the Kellogg Seminary, N. Y. Her mother 
dying in 1831 and her brother John moving to Ohio, and sisters 
Phoebe and Margaret married to Mr. Chas. and Mr. John Hart of 
Saybrook, and Sarah to A. D. Welles, of New York City. The two 
sisters, Nancy and Mary, occupied the homestead with their. father, 
who died in 1852. Miss Nancy Sill died in 1862. Miss Mary Sill 
then married Mr. Shadrack Sill, of Grassy Hill, who lived but four 



j'ears. 

f>C), "During her entire life Mrs. Sill resided in the old home of her 

(g father. 



fy "Mrs. Sill had a bright and active mind, with high and noble 

'■ aims. She was public-spirited, interested in events occurring in the 

world, was decided in her opinions, was of a deeply religious nature 
and early in life united with the church of her fathers (the Congre- 
gational). She was, during all her life, devoted to missions, and 
gave in her youth her simple girlish jewels for the cause, and could 
never be persuaded to accept a gift of that nature in after life. 

"The companionship of relatives and friends was a great 
pleasure to her; she was always hospitable and entertaining in con- 
versation. Letters (of which she received many were her solace, and 
she continued to write those she loved best almost to the very last. 
"She was of a cheerful and happy disposition and patient under 
every trial. Several periods of illness were borne with a patience 
- • t which never failed. The last illness from a fall and broken limb, 

\\\ was painful in the extreme. When suffering thus she said, 'Let 

I me go! Let me go!' Thanking the loved ones bending over her, 

I and kissing them, she bade each one good-bye gently, waving her 

I hands, saying she hoped to meet them in a Better Land. It was not 

//| long ere the Lord took her to himself. Her noble countenance, calm 

in death, wearing almost a smile, bespoke the peace of the soul 
released from its earthly fetters to join the company of the redeemed 
*^'^ in Heaven. 



74 



V 



OLD SILLTOWN 



"Services were held at her home, Rev. Chas. Villiers, her pastor, 
officiating ; speaking appreciative words with reading of scripture and 
singing of her favorite hymns, 'Jesus, Lover of My Soul,' 'Nearer, 
My God, to Thee.' 

"The casket, draped with flowers in lavish abundance, express- 
ing the love of many friends, was borne to the cemetery by her grand- 
nephews and friends, Messrs. William and John Peckham and Mr. 
Richard Hart of New York ; Prof. Bartlett, Mr. Thomas Farwell, 
Mr. Charles Sill. Dr. Villiers then repeated the burial services when 
our revered, aged and honored friend and citizen was laid to rest in 
'The Sill Enclosure,' amid the ancestors of seven generations." 

TRIBUTE BY CAROLINE ANN MATSON TERRY. 

We all (myself and sons) loved Mrs. Sill and I dare not 
think what Lyme will be without her and my beloved brother. 
I already begin to dread a visit there. Mrs. Sill seemed well 
when I saw her last summer; I little thought I was bidding her 
good-bye for the last time. 

She was always thinking and planning some way of doing 
good to others. I remember so well when but a child, hearing 
her with a neighbor contrive ways to help the needy and desti- 
tute at home and abroad, and denying themselves that they 
might give to missions. They have "entered into rest" and 
heard the glad welcome, "Good and faithful servants," but the 
results of their labors still go on. 

TRIBUTE BY A GRAND NEPHEW AT THE TIME OF HER DEATH. 

Dear Aunt Mary is laid away ; "her day is gone, her deeds 
are done." It makes me feel very sad that I shall never see her 
more. How many grand and pleasant things we can remember 
of her. Her life on this earth was one well lived. She "so 



75 






Wi 



OLD SILLTOWN 



lived that when her summons came to join the innumerable 
caravan that moves to that mysterious Realm" she could gladly, 
cheerfully sing: 

"Just as I am, without one plea, 
But that Thy blood was shed for me. 
And that Thou bid'st me come to Thee ; 
/ O Lamb of God, I come, I come." 



Women of her stamp are very few in this day and generation. 
Such an example of hardihood, strength, fortitude. Christian 
spirit is monumental. She never faltered at any obstacle that 
,^'^ beset her walk in life because of her confidence in the guiding 
hand of Him whose angels had charge over her to keep her in 
all her ways. 

Aunt Mary dwelt in the "secret places of the Most High" 
and "abode under the shadow of the Almighty." Death had 
no sting nor the grave any victory over her, still we must not 
weep for her. We would not, if we could, call her back into 
this world. Let us take pleasure in the thought that she is 
^\\ through with earthly cares and has reached her heavenly home 
beyond the skies. 



1 



Note. — ^As the final compilation of this volume was being made (Novem- 
ber, 191 2) word comes of the passing away of Caroline Ann Matson Terry, 
aged 91 years. During the summer just closed the writer had the pleasure of 
seeing this dear old lady with her same characteristic smile which he can 
|jj vividly remember seeing so often during the time of his boyhood when visit- 

l\\ ing her in company with his mother Sarah Sill Welles Burt and Mrs. Mary 

;• Sill. For the notice of the death of Mrs. Terry see final chapter in this 

book. 



76 



OLD SILLTOWN 



RESOLUTIONS. 

The members of the Leucretia Shaw Chapter, of New 
London, Conn., "Daughters of the American Revolution," 
passed the following resolutions at their last meeting: 

WHEREAS, God in His wisdom has taken Mrs. Mary 
Sill, a charter member, at an age which she attained by reason 
of strength and which we reverence, 

RESOLVED, That we pay a tribute to that patriotism 
that prompted her to enroll, in 1892, her name on our honored 
list and that we remember with sympathy the surviving 
relatives. 

RESOLVED, That these resolutions be entered upon the 
minutes of the Chapter and that a copy be sent to her friends. 

Mary Cook ComSTALK, Historian. 

Mrs. Mary Sill was greatly beloved and admired by her 
many nephews and nieces, many of whom are now living who 
can tell of the weeks and months spent with her during their 
summer vacations. Memory of her keen understanding of 
their youthful pains and pleasures with her trite words of 
wisdom will always remain. 

On her headstone in the Lyme cemetery is inscribed the 
following verse of Scripture truly appropriate to her: 

"She openeth her mouth with wisdom and on her tongue 
is the law of kindness." Prov. 31 :26. 

Mrs. Mary Sill, on her mother's side, was descended from 



77 



/// 



^^ 



OLD SILLTOJVN 



Governor Francis Willouby, whose wife, Margaret Locke 
Taylor, was second cousin to Queen Elizabeth of England, as 
follows : 

Mary Sill, daughter of Thomas Sill, son of David Fithian 
Sill and Sarah Griswold, daughter of Deacon Thomas Gris- 
wold of Black Hall, whose wife was daughter of Judge 
Nathanial Lynn and Susanna Willouby of Saybrook, (?) sister 
of Governor Francis Willouby. 

Governor Willouby was the owner of large interests in 
Boston Harbor; his shipyards were where the Fitchburgh 
freight station now stands and his wharves were upon both 
sides of the Ferry. He was Deputy General of Massachusetts 
from 1665 to 1 67 1. The Reverend Simon Bradstreet of New 
York, says : 

"Governor Willouby desired to be buried one foot deep 
and to have 'ye top of grave plain, only covered with ye tops of 
ye grass.' " 

The location of his grave is not accurately known and it 
is presumed that this is owing to a request of his that his grave 
should be left unmarked. 

From the Memorial History of Boston, volume i, page 
520, we quote the following advice : 

"When, in 1670, Deputy General Francis Willouby died 
and was buried, we were told that there were eleven full com- 
panies in attendance and that with the doleful noise of trumpet 
and drum in their mourning posture, three thundering volleys 
of shot were discharged, answered by the loud roaring of the 
great guns rendering the heavens with their noise at the loss of 
so great a man." 



78 



OLD SILLTOWN 



Below is shown a picture of an old relic formerly belong- 
ing to the Willouby family and now preserved by one of their 
descendants. It is claimed that this relic was presented to her 
second cousin, Margaret Willouby, by Queen Elizabeth, 
together with some items contained in it (including a table- 
cloth embroidered by the princess during her imprisonment in 



r ^ I « f it, » 



llf 




wu^H^^JlJ^ 




ELIZABETHIAN CHESr. 



the Tower) as a mark of appreciation of her loyalty as shown 
by her having shared with the queen her captivity in the tower 
of London. It will be remembered that the imprisonment of 
Queen Elizabeth in the tower of London occurred before she 
became queen, brought about through the influence of King 
Philip of Spain in order to prevent her becoming queen. It 



H,\\ 



'I 



79 



OLD SILLTOWN 



is said of Queen Elizabeth that before entering the tower as 
she landed at the gate, she called on the soldiers to bear witness 
that "I come as no traitor." She flung herself on the stones in 
the rain and refused to enter the palace, and said "Better sitting 
here than in a worse place." It was finally definitely recog- 
nized that she was not an accomplice to the conspiracy for 
which she had been accused and was later set free. 

The chest is a massive affair, seven feet in length, two feet 
seven inches in width and two feet seven inches high. It is 
made of a peculiar hard wood, originally very light in color, 
but darkened exceedingly by age. The quaint old carvings 
on the front and on the inside of the cover, the handwrought 
massive iron hinges and handles, the cumbersome lock and 
huge keys, are eloquent testimony of its age. The carvings on 
the outside, which are nearly worn ofT, evidently represent 
horsemen riding through a forest. At either end of the three 
front panels is a gallant of the Elizabethan period, long- 
haired, plume-hatted and a mass of rufifs and laces from neck 
to knees. The carvings on the inner side of the lid represent 
two scenes, one of Sir Walter Raleigh spreading his cloak 
before Queen Elizabeth; the other of a gay pleasure party in 
boats among small islands, with a turreted castle in the back- 
ground. Between the two scenes is a coat of arms. The shield 
has either a crest or lines to make four quarterings. 

The tradition that this chest, with the tablecloth embroid- 
ered in the tower and other valuable gifts, was given by Queen 
Elizabeth to Lady Margaret Willouby is claimed to be suffi- 
ciently well authenticated as to be beyond dispute. 

The Raymonds, Lyndes, Griswolds and Sills of New 
England, trace their ancestry back to Colonel William Wil- 

80 



OLD SILLTOWN 



louby, who was commissioner of the British Navy from 1648 
to 165 1, when he died. His son, Francis Willouby, came to 
New England in 1638 and returned to England in 1651. In 
1652 he was appointed successor of his father as commissioner 
of the navy and in 1658 he was chosen member of parliament 
for Portsmouth. In 1662 he returned to New England and 
became Deputy Governor for the Massachusetts Colony in 
1665, continuing in oflice until he died in 1675. 

The great chest which had come into the Raymond family 
by reason of marriage with the Willoubys was brought from 
Block Island to New London in 1704 by Mrs. Mercy Ray- 
mond, widow of Joshua, who was a grandson of Richard, it 
was then known as the "Great Willouby Chest" and as the 
"Elizabethan Chest." From generation to generation it was 
handed down, it finally was bequeathed to Theodore Raymond 
of Springfield, Mass., the present owner, by his grandfather, 
Theodore Raymond of Norwich, Conn. 



fOf'/j 



81 






ili 



OLD SILLTOWN 



\\i Lieutenant Governor George Griswold Sill. 

I'll George Griswold Sill, fourth son of Henry Sill of Wind- 

sor, Conn., who was the son of Lieutenant John Sill, who was 
the son of Joseph Sill, the Second, son of Joseph Sill, the First, 
son of John Sill of England. 

George Griswold Sill was born Oct. 26th, 1829. He set- 
tled in Hartford as an attorney-at-law and resided there until 
his death in 1907 after a long illness. He was prominent for 
many years and distinguished as a lawyer and statesman and 
held a high public office. 

He was prepared for college by private tuition, graduated 
at Yale, A. B., 1852, attended lectures for a year at Yale Law 
School and afterwards became a student in the law office of the 
late Governor Richard D. Hubbard at Hartford. Admitted to 
the bar in 1854. For thirty-six years was Justice of the Peace, 
for many years was prosecuting grand juror and a side judge of 
Hartford city court. 1871-73 was recorder or judge of the 
same court, served three years in Hartford common council, 
part of the time as alderman. Elected lieutenant-governor in 
1873, ticket headed by C. R. Ingersoll; re-elected 1874-75-76. 

511 It has been said that it was difficult to find a lawyer who 

would take a case in opposition to him. He was Lieutenant- 
Governor of Connecticut and United States District Attorney 



82 



OLD SILLTOWN 



under President Cleveland's administration. There were 
many eulogies of him after his death, one of which I quote 
here: 







^>\ 



I 



Cunyj^ ^.iUJ^ 



JUDGE BARBOUR'S TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY OF GEORGE G. SILL. 

"It was my privilege to know Lieutenant Governor 
George G. Sill fifty-two years. Will you kindly give me space 
for a brief, humble tribute to his memory. The year he began 
the practice of law, I began the study of it. I well remember 
how awe-inspiring to a young person was his majestic presence 

83 



\^i 



OLD SILLTOWN 



and manner; how terrifying to such a person was his blunt 
speech, his sober, stern countenance, but acquaintance with him 
proved that beneath that austere exterior was a kind heart. 
My intercourse with him the last ten years has been close and 
intimate, having had an office on the same floor with him, and 
until a few months ago, when he became confined to his home, 
I saw and talked with him most every day. 

"There is sincere mourning today among the lawyers and 
others occupying the floor, for like the Israelite 'in him was 
no guile,' and to know him thoroughly was to esteem him 
highly. His infirmities of late have prevented his carrying on 
the extensive practice he had for years. His faltering step 
about the street and his marked appearance of physical feeble- 
ness have excited the commiseration of his acquaintances. 
There is probably no man at the bar who has the respect and 
confidence of his brethren and the community to a greater 
extent than he. There survives but one lawyer who was a resi- 
dent in Hartford when he came to the bar, the Hon. Charles 
E. Perkins. May the day be distant when obituary words shall 
be spoken of him. 

"Mr. Sill was a very impressive public speaker. I recall 
a very striking illustration of this on the occasion of the meet- 
ing of the bar to take notice of the death of Governor Richard 
D. Hubbard, his former instructor. I think I hazard nothing 
in saying that in tender affection for the subject of his remarks, 
in eloquent just eulogy, and classical finish of language, his 
address was a gem not surpassed by that of any of the dis- 
tinguished speakers on that occasion. I recall how touching 
were his closing words, "His halting faith no longer darkens 
his existence. What he longed so much to believe and know 



84 



OLD SILLTOWN 



he has realized in that unknown and mysterious future which 
lies beyond the confines of this mortal life." These grand 
words carry the implication that his own faith was in no wise 
weak. Until he became too feeble to attend church his hearty 
participations in the beautiful Episcopal service at his church 
home (Trinity Church) showed him to be a humble worship- 
per of the Unseen One, and a believer in immortality. 

"Mr. Sill had sore family trials, prominent among which 
was the accident to his beloved namesake, a son whose imme- 
diate escape from death seemed miraculous. The death of 
that son after a few years of professional association with his 
father was a blow from which the father never recovered and 
he aged more rapidly after that shock, etc., etc., etc." 



When Governor of the State he was presented with a set 
of silverware by the Connecticut Senate in 1868. Concerning 
the long disappearance of this silver, I quote the following 
from a recent article in the press : 

FOUND AFTER MANY YEARS. 

SON OF LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR SILL RECEIVES SILVER SET, 

STOLEN YEARS AGO. 

After being held in a pawn shop for 31 years a set of 
silverware stolen from the house of Lieutenant Governor Sill 
of Connecticut, was recovered last week by the police of Hart- 
ford and turned over to William Raymond Sill of New York, 
a son of the governor. 

In 1877, burglars stole several thousand dollars' worth of 
silverware and jewelry from Governor Sill's house, including 
a highly prized set of silver presented by the Connecticut 

85 



/// 



OLD SILLTOJVN 



Senate in 1868. Governor Sill offered a reward at the time 
and the police, according to the old Hartford records, spent 
much time on the case. 

The silver service is in almost perfect condition. The 
chest, made of leather and carrying the coat of arms of Con- 
necticut, was slightly cut. Each piece of silver bears the date 
of 1867 and the inscription of Lieutenant Governor Sill 

The son of Lieutenant Governor Sill referred to by Judge 
Barbour was: 

GEORGE ELIOT SILL. 
Born in Hartford, 1862, struck down in the midst of his career 
at the early age of about forty years. He graduated from the 
West Middle School in his native city and was a freshman at 
the Hartford High School when he was seriously injured in a 
railroad accident at Stony Creek during the summer of 1877, 
in which both of his feet were severed. Everything known to 
medical science was done to restore him to comparative normal 
condition but the infirmity always preyed deeply on his mind 
and produced in him a very retiring disposition. He entered 
high school a year or so later and graduated in 1882. He 
matriculated at Amherst and in 1886 received a Degree of 
Bachelor of Science. He studied law with his father, then 
Lieutenant Governor and was admitted to the Hartford 
County bar in 1888. His general ability, especially in law, 
made him always in demand. Mentally, he was very active 
and received many honors. He was delegate to many conven- 
tions. The position of Collector of Customs was offered him 
through Congressman Sperry of that State, but he declined, 
preferring to practice law with his father who needed him in 
conducting the large law practice of his office. 



86 



OLD SILLTOWN 



His last case was before the Court of Common Appeals 
where he appeared on the morning of the day in which he 
was taken ill and died after an illness of ten weeks' duration. 

He was a member of many patriotic societies — The 
Reform of New York, The Press Club, The Society of Colon- 
ial Wars, Sons of American Revolutions. 



\:^ 



87 



OLD SILLTOWN 



Silltown Chapel 

On the side of the road running by the Sill farm lands 
about three hundred yards from Thomas Sill's homestead there 
stands the old district school house. It has many times been 
repaired yet has not lost its original design. There the chil- 
dren of the neighborhood received their education. Among 




SILLTOWN CHAPEL. 

the teachers of those early days, my own aunt, Mrs. Mary Sill, 
has stated there were such instructors as the late Governor 
Buckingham, then a young man, who rose to distinction in later 
life. It was customary in those days that the teacher be taken 
into the home and cared for, given room and lodging by the 
various residents of the district in turn. 




OLD SILLTOWN 



This school house, ten or more years ago, was repaired 
by Mrs. Mary Sill and the other residents of the neighborhood 
and was converted into a chapel where religious services and 
social gatherings of the people of the neighborhood have since 
been held. The building is no longer used as a school house, 
the district schools having all been consolidated with those of 
the town and removed to a central building in the town of 
Lyme. At the present writing ( 1912) this old Silltown Chapel 
is in fairly good repair, and it is the expectation of the resi- 
dents of the locality to use it for prayer meetings on Sunday 
afternoons during the coming fall and winter. It is also serv- 
ing a good purpose as a place of meeting of the new organiza- 
tion of Boy Scouts which has recently been formed in the 
neighborhood. 

LOCATION OF THE HOMES OF THE SILL FAMILIES. 

The house of Captain John Sill was situated about where 
the present home of Mr. Daniel Davidson now stands. John 
Sill left this house to his only son, Joseph Sill, the ist, who in 
turn left this house to his son Joseph Sill, the 2nd, who resided 
there thirty years and removed to North Lyme. Joseph Sill, 
the 2nd, in turn left this house to his oldest son, Lieutenant 
John Sill, the 2nd. 

John Sill, the 3d, second son of Lieutenant John Sill, the 
2nd, built his house across the street from his father's and next 
to his was built the home of Silas Sill, which house is now 
standing. 



89 



OLD SILLTOWN 



On the brow of the hill was the home of Andrew Sill, son 
of Zachariah. It has been described as being two stories high 
in the front and one story high in the rear, the sides covered 
with shingles, a commodious home. It is not now standing. 

Below the hill was the home of Zachariah. Still farther 
down the street on a knoll at a bend in the road in 1799 Captain 
Thomas Sill's home was erected, which is now standing. 
Across the street from the home of Thomas Sill were the homes 
of Reuben Tinker, also the Dorr family, ancestors of Edward 
Dorr Griffin, former president of Williams College, and Mrs. 
Jaspar Peck, who was Mrs. Phoebe Dorr. 

Below Captain Sill's home was that of Captain Joseph 
Sill, the 4th, who married Miss Elizabeth Lee of Grassy Hill. 
This house was removed by Mrs. Thomas Sill in her day as 
being unsightly. However, in the old garden may still be 
found the old well covered with a stone slab. 

There are, at present, two Sill homes left standing in Sill- 
town, all others having disappeared. 

The residence of the Sills' farther down the street in Lyme 
are now owned by other families than those bearing the name 
Sill. 

SILL NEIGHBORS IN SILLTOWN. 

History states the neighbors in Silltown in the olden times 
as being the Dorrs, Wades and Matsons, Edmund Dorr was 
born in Roxbury, near Boston, in 1692. He was a cloth dresser. 
He settled in Silltown and established his business on Mill 
Creek in 1716. He married Miss Mary Griswold of Lyme. 

90 



OLD SILLTOWN 



The family removed to East Hadam at the time of the Revolu- 
tionary War. In 1854 Mrs. George G. Sill, in writing to Mrs. 
Mary Sill in Silltown, said : 

"Opposite your house was the so-called 'My Sarvant 
Dorr' with his sensible and talented family of children, 
Edward, who became a minister and settled in Hartford, 
George, a lawyer and settled in Mantee Parish near Four Mile 
River, and Matthew, a farmer who lived on the homestead, 
and his daughter Eve, the mother of Edward Dorr Griffin." 

The Wades settled on the same stream and established a 
millsite farther up the creek. 

Nathaniel Matson came from Boston in 171 5 and located 
north of Silltown, dying in 1776, aged 92 years. He was the 
ancestor of the late Colonel Israel Matson, that greatly 
esteemed gentleman whose death occurred in 1903. His estate 
is called "Matson Hill," adjoining Silltown, now the residence 
of his sister, Mrs. Catherine Ann Matson Terry, and her sons, 
Charles, Nathaniel and James Luther Terry, M, D., who are 
known and beloved by the present Old Lyme residents. 

A resident in Silltown in the childhood days of the author 
was Dr. Shubell Bartlett. He came to reside there with his 
lovely bride, who was Miss Fannie Griswold of Black Hall. 
She was a delicate blonde with silken curls falling about her 
face, neck and shoulders, complexion of lily-whiteness, with 
sparkling hazel eyes. I do not remember having seen her 
dressed in anything but white. She was my ideal of a beautiful 
woman. The doctor was a great favorite of my grandfather, 
and, in fact, with the whole family. He was a frequent visitor 
at the old colonial home. Dr. Bartlett purchased lands of 
Captain Thomas Sill (nearly opposite the residence of John 



91 






OLD SILLTOWN 



Sill, now belonging to Judge Huntington) , and built the home 
now called "Cricket Lawn." When, in 1849, the gold fever 
broke out, he went, with others, to the gold fields of California 
and never returned, having lost his life when crossing "The 
Isthmus." Professor Charles Bartlett, principal of the Black 
Hall Preparatory School for young men, is his son. 

UPPER MILL. 

In Laysville at the outlet of Rogers Lake, near Lyme, 
north of Silltown, stands a large stone factory, most artistic in 
appearance, which was owned and operated for many years 
by Captain Thomas Sill and Deacon Nathaniel Matson in the 
manufacture of woolen goods. Here were manufactured the 
Satinet cloth for men's apparel, fine woolen yarns and other 



*^L 


■"■ 





&»K . 


Wm^4'-- ■ ■ ■•■^- 


M 


:aJ 




""'Pi 


■P^'' ' 



UPPER MILL. 

material. Later it was purchased by Mr. Oliver Lay, always 
called Squire Lay, whose antecedents were the earliest resi- 
dents of that locality, and after whom the locality was named. 
Squire Lay's ancestor, John Lay was one of the first set- 



92 



OLD SILLTOWN 



tiers in Laysville; tradition states he erected the first house in 
town on his lands near Duck River. Mr. Daniel Lay, a 
descendant now living, states that John Lay came from Long 
Island in 1637. His lands extended from the Connecticut 
shore on the west to Duck River on the north and to Black 
Hall River on the east. 



93 



111 



1 



III 






II! 



OLD SILLTOWN 



DISTINGUISHED DESCENDANTS OF THE SILL 

FAMILY. 

Brigadier General Joshua Woodroe Sill. 

Brigadier General Joshua Woodroe Sill, military officer 
and commander, was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, and graduated 




BRIGADIER GENERAL J. W. SILL 

in 1854 at the United States Military Academy at West Point 
with distinguished honors; was professor there until 1857. He 
was stationed at Ft. Vancouver, Washington Territory, in 
1859. He resigned from the army in 1861, re-entering the 



94 



OLD SILLTOWN 



volunteer service as brigadier general, July 1863. He was 
killed at the battle of Murfreesboro. 

Comte de Paris' History of the Civil War says of him. 
"Just as Vaughn's troops were beginning to give way, Sill 
boldly resumed the offensive, chased them at the head of his 
brigade and drove the enemy back in disorder. But the heroic 
Sill fell mortally wounded in the battle in the very midst of the 
enemies' battalions, a victim of his zeal. 

Brigadier Gen. Joshua Woodroe Sill was a descendant of 
Zachariah Sill ist through Mr. Joseph Sill of Chillicothe, 
Ohio, of the sixth generation, who graduated from college in 
1809 at Montpelier, Vt., studied law with Hon. Cyrus Ware 
of Montpelier, removed to Philadelphia and was admitted to 
the bar in 1814. He settled in the practice of his profession 
at Chillicothe, Ohio; was one of the celebrated lawyers of this, 
the first capital of Ohio. 

His son. Brigadier General Joshua Woodroe Sill, was 
the idol of the family as well as the community, his name is 
revered wherever he was known. His body was found after a 
month of search on the battlefield of Murfreesboro and buried 
in the beautiful Hills cemetery at Chillicothe, Ohio. Some 
years ago a man in Texas wrote that he had in his possession 
General Sill's sword, which he found on the battlefield. He 
came north with it, presented it to his relatives in Chillicothe, 
Ohio. 

There was a great meeting of war veterans and the Sill 
Guards, a local company named in his honor; Judge Clifford 
Douglas, a nephew, received the sword, and presided over the 
occasion of its presentation. A connection who is not a blood 

95 



111 



OLD SILLTOWN 



relation in giving this interesting account to the author writes 
that "the Sill, as well as the Douglas blood, ranks the best in 
the state and stands for the best in all things." 

The daughter of Joseph Sill and sister of Brigadier Gen- 
eral Joshua Woodroe Sill was Anna Sill who married when 
quite young Albert Douglas, whose father, Hon. Richard 
Douglas, was a noted lawyer of Ohio. Her daughter is Mrs. 
Stanley Sedgwick of London, England, who is mother of the 
authoress, Anna Douglas Sedgwick. 

The sons of Anna Sill Douglas are the Hon. Albert 
Douglas, a late member of Congress; Judge Clifford Douglas, 
who has retired from "The Bench ;" Joshua Douglas, living in 
Buffalo, N. Y., who was named for his uncle. 

The only daughter of Anna Sill Douglas was Anna Sill, 
who still lives unmarried in Princeton, N. J. She is an emi- 
nent authority on many subjects. She is in demand by such 
institutions as the Metropolitan Art Museum of New York, 
which sends her abroad on missions of investigations of pic- 
tures, manuscripts, etc. In her possession is a fine portrait of 
General Joshua Woodroe Sill, also the general's swords, which 
are reported to be always hanging crossed above his portrait. 

GENERAL MANSFIELD. 

General Mansfield, who achieved renown in the Civil 
War in this country, was a Sill descendant through one Hub- 
bard of Middletown, Conn., who married a Sill. This vigor- 
ous old man, at the head of his troops, hastened to reinforce 
General Hooker at the battle of Antietam, near Durfees 
Churchyard. 

96 



OLD SILLTOWN 



ANNA PECK SILL. 



A noble representative of the Sill family through Andrew 
Sill, son of Zachariah Sill, son of Joseph 2nd of Silltown, was 
Miss Anna Peck Sill. She was born in Burlington, N. Y., 
August 9, 1 8 16, the youngest of ten children. She inherited 




^^~2^yi^ ^yz^i,--^--6V_ 



i c^ c 



the intellectual and moral qualities of a long line of Puritan 
ancestry. 

In 1849 she operated a school at Rockford, 111. She set 
up a standard in the wilderness with a courage that knew no 



97 



OLD SILLTOWN 



/^' 



\\\ 



faltering, with a ceaseless vigilance, she patiently, hopeflUy, 
prayerfully wrought out her dream of life. In the year of 
1884, after thirty-five years of successful leadership. Miss Sill 
resigned. She died in her seminary room June 18, 1889. At 
the alumni reunion Mrs. Matie T. Perry paid her this able 
tribute : 




SILL HALL. 

"She was gifted with a wondrous endowment of head and 
heart and an indomitable will, to carry out her scheme for the 
betterment of mankind." 



98 



OLD SILLTOWN 



Eighth Generation 

Henry Sill Hart. 

Henry Sill Hart of New York City was a descendant of 
Captain Joseph Sill through Captain Thos. Sill whose 
daughter Phoebe, married Mr. C. B. Hart, a prominent citizen 
of Saybrook, Conn., and descendant of a family of that town. 
Henry Sill Hart died in February, 1903, aged 78 years. The 
Brooklyn Eagle states of him: "He was especially endeared 
to his friends for his sterling qualities." He was born in East 
Hadam, Conn. His early childhood was passed in Lyme. He 
removed to Utica and was in the employ of his uncle, Mr. A. 
L. Welles in the retail dry goods business. He removed to 
New York City and became well-known there in dry goods 
circles as a resident buyer for western jobbing houses. He 
continued in this business for the remainder of his life. He 
was always actively interested in the general development of 
every enterprise which tended to promote the general interests 
of New York City as a dry goods market. He was a member 
and director of the Brooklyn Club and also a member of the 
Union League, Marine and Field Club of Brooklyn and a 
member of the Merchants Club of Manhattan, also a member 
of the New England Society. All of these organizations con- 
tained devoted friends of many years' standing and his death 
was recognized to be a severe loss to acquaintances, friends, 
relatives and the community at large. Mr. Hart had always 
been a good friend to Mrs. Mary Sill who, for so many years, 



99 



m 



I!) 



OLD SILLTOWN 



VC^ 




HENRY SILL HART. 



lived alone in the Thomas Sill homestead in Silltown. To her 
he always gladly extended sympathy and assistance and upon 
her death he became owner of the property. 



lOO 



i^ 



^ 



OLD SILLTOWN 



THOMAS HALE SILL. 

Thomas Hale Sill of Erie, Pennsylvania, a descendant of 
the line of Richard Sill, the ist, of Saybrook, Conn., was attor- 
ney general of the United States in 1819. 

Rev. Frederick Shrader Sill of Cohoes, N. Y., born New 
York City, 1848. Graduate of Stephen's College, 1869 and 




REVEREND FREDERICK SHRADER SILL. 

General Theological Seminary, 1872. Deacon, 30th June, 
1872. Priest, 2ist September, 1873. Registrar of Diocese of 
Albany. Archdeacon of Albany. Rector of St. John's Church, 
Cohoes, N. Y. Married, February 6th., 1879, to Mary Power. 



lOI 



OLD SILLTOWN 



He is a descendant of Thomas Sill of Middletown, Conn., 
and of Joseph Sill the ist. He is a gifted minister of the 
Episcopal Church. He has three sons; his namesake, Freder- 
ick DeVeter, is a civil engineer employed in the construction 
of the Panama Canal, and has been thus engaged for three 
years (1910). 

THOMAS HENRY SILL. 

Thomas Henry Sill of New York, died April 6th, 1909. 
Established a mission in a neglected region of the city near 
39th street, and after many years of good service, he had the 
satisfaction of seeing a ehurch erected in that neighborhood 
which was completed shortly before his death. He was vicar 
in charge for forty-four years. At the time of his death he 
was the oldest clergyman of any sort in office. He was a 
descendant of Thomas Sill of Connecticut. His eldest son, 
Henry A. Sill, graduated from Columbia College, New York, 
in 1888, studied at Oxford, England, and at the University of 
Halle from 1893 to 1900, and took his P. H. D. there under 
Professor Meyer. He has been a professor in the History 
Department at Cornell University for several years. Another 
son of Thomas Sill of New York was Reverend Frederick H. 
Sill, best known as Father Sill, who was also a graduate of 
Columbia College, New York, in 1895. ^^ was ordained to 
the ministry as Deacon in 1898 and as Priest in 1899. He has 
been a member for many years of the order of the Holy Cross 
in the Episcopal Church. He started a school for boys at 
Kent, Conn., in 1906, of which he is head master. 



102 



^r- 




^i' 



OLD SILLTOWN 



Another son of Thomas Sill is James B. Sill, also a gradu- 
ate of Columbia College in 1892. Became Deacon in the 
Episcopal Church in 1897 and Priest in 1898 in the diocese 
of New York. Was connected with the Church of the 
Redeemer for several years, afterwards a missionary in the 
diocese of Albany, New York. 

EDWARD ROWLAND SILL. 

Edward Rowland Sill, a descendant of Elisha Sill of 
Windsor, Conn., a gifted writer of both poetry and prose and 
whose death was greatly mourned. It is said of him : "Edward 
Rowland Sill stood very high in breadth of thought and 
falicity of expression; he, in his writings, pours forth lavishly 
the treasures of heart and head." 

EDWARD EVERETT SILL. 

Edward Everett Sill, formerly of New Haven, now of 
New York, an active member of "Order of the Founders and 
Patriots" of Hartford, whose eulogy on the Reverend Stephen 
Johnson, delivered some time ago at one of the anniversaries 
of this society in Hartford, gave due credit to that fine old 
patriot. We quote it : 

"History says there were many genuine patriots in the 
early days of the colonies. Among them was the Reverend 
Stephen Johnson of Lyme, Conn. He took up the side of 
liberty about ten years before the Revolutionary War broke 
out, at the time of the infamous Stamp Act. He wrote essays 
for the Connecticut Gazette, published in New London, and 
sent them secretly to the printer. Three or four of them were 

103 



I 



OLD SILLTOWN 



published and the eyes of the people began to open, and when 
war did come, Mr. Johnson had the satisfaction of seeing patri- 
otic and faithful men engaged in the service of the colonies, 
and went himself as chaplain when Boston was the seat of 
war." 

ELISHA MATHER SILL. 

Elisha Mather Sill, M. D., of New York City, is a 
descendant of Captain Joseph Sill through Joseph Sill the 
2nd, through Dr. Elisha Sill who settled in Goshen, Conn. 
Elisha Mather Sill is prominent in medical circles and a mem- 
ber of many medical societies. 

HERBERT RALPH SILL. 

Herbert Ralph Sill, son of Charles Henry Sill (descend- 
ant of Thomas Sill of Middletown, Conn., son of Joseph Sill 
the 2nd of Lyme), resides at Bayonne, N. Y., is interested in a 
Spanish firm and has large interests in Brazil and South 
America. 

HOWARD SILL. 

^ Howard Sill of Baltimore, Md., is a descendant of Cap- 

* tain Joseph Sill in the following order: 

Howard Mather Sill, son of 
Judge William Nicol Sill, son of 
Ij, Major Richard Sill, son of 

^j; Lieut. John Sill, son of 

Joseph Sill, son of 
Captain Joseph Sill 

Mr. Howard Sill has collected much data concerning the 
family. 

104 



OLD SILLTOWN 



MAJOR GENERAL ALFRED ELLIOT BATES, U. S. A. 

Major General Alfred Elliot Bates, U. S. A., a dis- 
tinguished descendant of Captain Joseph Sill, ist, was Major 
General Alfred Elliot Bates, U. S. A. His line of descent 
comes through Joseph 2nd, who removed to North Lyme. 
Jabez, the fourth son of Joseph 2nd, married Elizabeth Noyes, 
daughter of Rev. Moses of Lyme, the first pastor of the First 
Church of Christ. Their daughter, Mary Sill, married James 
Gould of North Lyme and their daughter, Sarah, married 
Phineas P. Bates, whose son, Alfred Gould Bates, married 
Betsy Ann Elliot. Major General Bates was their son. 

He was born in 1840 and was graduated from West Point 
in 1865. In 1869 he married Caroline McCorkle. After serv- 
ing in the west, where he distinguished himself as an Indian 
fighter, he was appointed as instructor at West Point, but took 
the field again in 1874 and was in the Big Horn expedition. 
In command of a troop of cavalry, with two hundred Sho- 
shone Indians, he defeated the Arapahoes at Snake Mountain. 
In 1875 he went on the stafif as Paymaster General U. S. A. 
In 1898 he was appointed military attache at the Court of 
St. James. He was retired January 22, 1904, as Major Gen- 
eral U. S. A., a rank conferred upon him by Secretary Elihu 
Root, in recognition of his long and unusually meritorious ser- 
vice to his department. 

In May, 1906, he was sent to San Francisco to look after 
the accounting of the Red Cross and Government funds con- 
tributed for the relief of earthquake sufiferers. 

He is survived by Mrs. Bates to whom I am indebted for 
the accompanying portrait of the general taken in London. 

105 






^ 



OLD SILLTOWN 



His two daughters, Mrs. F. R. Swift and Mrs. M. D. 
McKee of 162 East Seventy-fourth street and two sisters, Mrs. 



^ 



\\\ 




MAJOR GENERAL ALFRED ELLIOTT BATES, U. S. A. 

Wellington and Mrs. William Laurence of 969 Fifth avenue. 
New York City, have kindly furnished the writer with this 
record of the general's eventful life. 



106 



OLD SILLTOWN 



MAJOR GENERAL JAMES FRANKLIN WADE, U. S. A. 

Another illustrious descendant, now living, is Major 
General James Franklin Wade, U. S. A. 

His line of descent was as follows — as taken from the 
Register of Members and Ancestors for 1901 of the Society of 
Colonial Wars in the State of Minnesota: 

Captain Joseph Sill 1639-1696 married 

Sarah (Clark) Marvin, their son 

Joseph Sill 1687 married 

Phoebe Lord 1686, their daughter 

Sarah Sill 1728-1814 married 

Nehimiah Hubbard 1721-1814, their son 

Colonel Nehimiah Hubbard 1753- 1834 married 

Cornelia Willis 1754-1781, their daughter 

Sarah Hubbard 1780-1862 married 

Depire Roseneraus, their daughter 

Caroline M. Roseneraus 1805- 1889 married 

Benjamin Franklin Wade 1800- 1878 and 

Major General James Franklin Wade, U. S. A., is their 
son. 

He served in the Civil War, the Cuban War, and the 
Philippine War. He was a graduate of West Point and his 
service covers the period from 1861 to 1907, over forty-six 
years. 

James Franklin Wade, Major General, U. S. A., son of 
Benjamin T. Wade, senator from Ohio, was born in Jefferson, 
Ohio, April 14, 1843. When eighteen years of age he was 
appointed First Lieutenant of the 6th U. S. Cavalry from 

107 



m 



1 



1 



H^' 



^. 




OLD SILLTOWN 



Ohio in 1861, Lieutenant Colonel U. S. Cavalary, May i, 
1864, Brigadier General 1864, entered the regular United 
States Army 1866 as Major 9th Cavalary, Lieutenant Colonel 
1897, Brigadier General 1897, Major General 1898, Major 
General U. S. A., 1903, and was commander of Atlantic 
Division in 1904. 

He rendered gallant and meritorious service at the battle 
of Beverly Ford, Va. ; at Marion, East Tennessee in the cam- 
paign in southwestern Virginia in the Civil War in 1865. 

He was head of the Cuban Evacuation Committee in 1898, 
served in the Philippines in 1901, commanded a division in 
the Philippines in 1903-4. 

Major General Wade resides in Jefferson, Ashtabula 
County, Ohio. His photograph, kindly donated to the author 
by the general himself, presents his fine presence and apparent 
health, prosperity and happiness. 



//^' 



109 



OLD SILLTOWN 



FINAL. 

This volume contains a record of events obtained from a 
great variety of sources as mentioned in the preface. Various 
items have been supplied from time to time by connections, 
descendants and friends of the family, a few of whom are now 
living and some of whom are now dead. The nature of the 
text of this volume implies absolute certainty of statement 
where dates and events are positively matters of record and 
are therefore authentic or when the events recorded are mat- 
ters of tradition or observation by the writer or by those whom 
the writer has known in their lifetime, the text again so 
implies. The records and histories of the progenitors of the 
family testify to their sterling worth of character, also their 
refinement and their religious zeal. They were men of posi- 
tion, of learning and of means. They were devoted to the 
church of which they were members and interested in estab- 
lishing a government and schools, of protecting their institu- 
tions of liberty and in giving of their means to the interests of 
their town or community. They leave us a priceless heritage 
of uprightness and honor. It remains for us, their descendants, 
to maintain this high standard and ever to bear in mind the 
example thus set before us. We would not claim for them 
perfection or infallibility, but it was their general desire to 
live godly, brave and virtuous lives and to establish govern- 
ment of civil and religious liberty in their native land in which 
their early ancestor had established the family. 

The Sill enclosure in Duck River Cemetery in Lyme 
conserves the bodies of over thirty of these ancestors, those 
descending through the oldest son, Joseph the ist, representing 
eight generations. 

I lO 




OLD SILLTOWN 



At the solicitation of Sarah Welles Burt their resting 
place has been suitably enclosed, many headstones have been 
reset, names which were about to be obliterated by time, have 
been re-cut and a marble slab has been placed over the tomb 
of Captain Joseph Sill, which gives an indication of his record 
of services. In doing this the ancient headstones have not been 
disturbed but have been preserved for posterity. On a corner- 
stone of the enclosure is inscribed "Erected by the Sill 
Family." 

As attesting to the general interest of the present living 
generations of descendants in the restoration and preservation 
of the old Sill family lot, we here record as completely as pos- 
sible, the names of those who contributed : 

Richard Townsend Peckham 

John S. Peckham 

William Peckham 

Mrs. Maria Martin 

Louisa Peckham 

Josephine Welles Richardson /'' 

Mr. Henry Hart 

Frank Sill Rogers, Albany, N. Y. '^^ 

Mr. Richard Hart ' ^''' 

Mr. William Sill 

Mr. William Welles /// 

Mr. Samuel Welles |f( 

Miss Nettie Sill 

Mrs. Mary Hart-Pixley n, 

Mr. George Sill Welles %^ 

Mrs. George Sill Welles 

Miss Mary Pixley 

III 



OLD SILLTOWN 



Mr. George Sill 

Mrs. Mary Sill 

Rev. Frederick Sill 

Mrs. Amelia Huntington Sill 

Miss Leonora Sill 

Mrs. Sarah Louisa Newton Hickox 

Mr. Edward Everett Sill 

Mrs. S. M. Sill Burt, Hartford, Conn. 

Mrs. Harriet Baldwin Davidson, Jamaica, L. L 

Miss Caroline Baldwin, Middletown, Conn. 

Mr. Henry Sill Baldwin, Middletown, Conn. 

Miss Carrie Eyke Sill, Hartford, Conn. | 

Dr. John Sill, Argyle, N. Y. 

Mary Sill Snow, Old Saybrook 

Fanny M. Sill 

Jennie A. Sill 

Sarah E. Sill 

Charles A. Sill 

Mrs. Jennie M. Peck 

Mrs. A. P. Simpson 

Mr. John Sill, Ashtabula, Ohio 

Mrs. Sarah Hart Bradley 

Mr. Clinton Bradley 

Mr. Harry Bradley 

Mrs. Sarah H. Taylor . 

Miss Selden, Erie, Penn. ' 

Major General James F. Wade, U. S. A. 

Lieut.JohnP.Wade, U.S. A. 

Mrs. S. Laurence ^ 

Dr. John C. Sill 't 

112 






OLD SILLTOWN 



. W^. \\\ 




t 





r 


a> 






- 


<-i 






-5 


s 


> 




;j 


rr 


ac 




t 






< 




"o 





u 




- 


c 


U) 




E 


w 


U 




f 




q: 


1 


^ 


^1^ 


Ld 










J3 


S 


C/5 


5 


*^ 


c 




u: 


a> 


^ 




'.; 


^ 







a 


CD 


t/i 




Q 



c\ 



'■^'^^ 



OLD SILLTOWN 



Helen Sill, Argyle, N. Y. 
'\j\ Sarah Seldon, descendant of Anna Sill 

j^i Florence Virginia Sill 

jj William Griswold Burt 

i\ Mrs. Sarah Sill Welles Burt 

On Memorial Day the flag of our country is placed to 
wave over the graves of Captain Joseph Sill and Colonel 
David Fithian Sill; thus, though years have passed, the Colon- 
ial and Revolutionary soldiers are not forgotten. May their 
memory be ever kept fresh by descendants of present and 
future generations. We here take the liberty of quoting from 
''The Hidden Village" by Hamilton Mabee, in 1908, which 
appropriately may preceed the final illustration in this 
volume : 

"The ancient churchyard lies in the very lap of 
nature and has been cherished into a touching and 
tender loveliness of ripe age. The paths between the 
graves are sweet with memorial turf so that the living 
are as quiet as the dead in this sacred place. The 
stones are gray with age and time has erased 
the names of those that sleep below; in a general 
i'ij beneficence that enfolds the place there is no need of 

I individual remembrance. They that sleep are 



114 



OLD SILLTOWN 



enfolded by a great blessedness of peace. Centuries 
ago they went out of the tumult and the storm and are 
now at rest in this sweet haven!" 






SILL ENCLOSURE, IN DUCK RIVER CEMETERY, OLD LYME, CONN. 



/J .; 



/// 



115 



OLD SILLTOWN 



INTERESTING REMINISCENCES OF OLD LYME 
AND INDIVIDUALS AND EVENTS CON- 
NECTED WITH OLD LYME. 

OLD LYME STORE USED FOR STORING AMMUNITION AFTER THE 

WAR OF l8l2. 

An interesting instant in connection with Lyme and its 
history about the year 1812 was related to the writer by Mr. 
Chas. Harvey of Marquette, Mich. Mr. Harvey was a man 
of world-wide reputation and public benefactor for he 
invented and constructed the first elevated railroad in New 
York City, and his wife was the first lady who rode on it. In 
northern Michigan he engineered and constructed the canal 
and locks, at Sault Ste. Marie the semi-centennial celebration 
of which occurred in 1905 in which the then Vice-President 
Fairbanks and prominent Canadian officials took part. Mr. 
Harvey was born in the town of Colchester, parish of North 
Chester, and was a native of Connecticut. He was the son of 
a Congregational minister who afterwards became a Presby- 
terian and established the First Presbyterian Church in Con- 
necticut, which is now the large Theological Seminary in 
Hartford. His son Charles, as a youth in 1840 was oflered a 
position (which he accepted) with John Hart's store in Lyme, 
Conn., which was situated at the lower end of the main street 
of Lyme on the green, opposite Squire McCurdy's home. This 
store was about 200 feet to the right of being directly in front 
of where Dr. Griffin's house stands. Mr. Harvey was an own 
cousin of the late Chief Justice Waite of the Supreme Court 
of the United States, their mothers being sisters, the Misses 
Selden of Hadlyme. While in John Hart's employ, Charles 

116 



OLD SILLTOWN 



Harvey undertook the renovation of the cellar of the store and 
there, deeply buried in an accumulation of debris, he found a 
quantity of cannon balls, the story of them being as follows: 

"During the war of 1812 a fleet of British vessels came up 
the Sound and anchored off the mouth of the Connecticut 
River. At that time both the towns of Essex and Lyme (espe- 
cially Essex) were noted for being the centers of shipping 
industries and it was the purpose of the British to destroy the 
shipyards in these places. They accordingly equipped an 
expedition for this purpose. They embarked from their men- 
of-war and rowed up the river to Essex where they burned 
part of the town and all of the shipping. (At the present time 
the remains of an old hulk which was burned to the water's 
edge and sunk may be seen at Essex and visitors can be shown 
the old fire place in an old colonial house near the river, from 
which live coals were taken to start the conflagration in the 
shipyards.) 

"In the meantime the citizens of Lyme had made prepara- 
tion for defense. They called their men together and placed 
a field gun with ammunition on the top of Hoyes Hill over- 
looking the river. They discerned, however, that the British 
forces were much stronger than their own and concluded that 
to begin action would surely draw upon Lyme an attack by the 
British and, therefore, concluded they would begin action only 
after being attacked. Accordingly the British boats passed 
quietly down the river without so much as a gun having been 
fired by the Lyme men." 

Thus, the cannon balls which had been provided come to 
be stored in the basement of John Hart's store, and there 
remained until Mr. Harvey found them, as stated above. 

117 



OLD SILLTOWN 



CONCERNING MRS. MATTHEW GRISWOLD. 

The following is a copy of a clipping taken from the Deep 
River New Era: 

A CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY. 

Mrs. Matthew Griswold Passes the Century Mark. 

An event of unusual interest to all in our community, and 
indeed to many not citizens of our town, took place on Sunday, 
July 17th, 1904. An esteemed resident of Old Lyme, Mrs. 
Matthew Griswold, of Black Hall, reached the good round age 
of 100 years. Probably never in the history of Old Lyme, 
nor in the history of the several municipalities which are its 
neighbors, and which were once comprehended as the town 
of Lyme, has a citizen reached so ripe an age. 

Mrs. Griswold was born in Lyme in the township north 
of the present town of Old Lyme, July 17th, 1804. It may, 
therefore, be said that during her whole life she has been a 
resident of the same town. Mrs. Griswold was the daughter 
of Col. Seth Ely. Her birthplace has always been known as 
Mount Archer. 

On July 5th, 1827, she was married to Mr. Matthew Gris- 
wold, and the Griswold homestead at Black Hall (which has 
for more than two centuries been the birthplace of men emi- 
nent in affairs of town and state) , has ever since been her home. 

To Mr. and Mrs. Griswold eight children were born, all 
of whom were daughters except one. Seven children are now 
living. One daughter died some years ago. The son, Mr. 
Matthew Griswold, lives at Erie, Pa., and conducts a very 

118 



OLD SILLTOWN 



successful manufacturing business in that city. For several 
terms he was a member of Congress from Pennsylvania. 

Mrs. Griswold united with the Old Lyme Congregational 
Church in April, 1828. It is doubtful if in any church in our 
state or even in our country is to be found a living member 
whose membership antedates hers. 

To the busy bustling outside world, it might appear that 
Mrs. Griswold's life has been uneventful. She has been wont 
in her modest way to speak of it in such terms herself. But it 
has been a life strong, dignified, gentle and influential for 
the things true, venerable, just, pure, lovely and of good report, 
and no one who has come in contact with it but has gone out 
into the world a better man or a better woman for its fellow- 
ship. The whole community gladly honors this noble woman 
of Christian character and experience and wishes for her 
remaining days on earth freedom from bodily pain and the 
peace that cometh from Him whom she has loved and served 
for so many years. 

What a history hers has been. She has lived through a 
century, than which the world has not seen one more wonder- 
ful, a century which has been nothing short of miraculous in 
the several realms in which man lives and moves and has his 
being. 

Until within a few months, Mrs. Griswold has enjoyed 
excellent health. Though now somewhat weak bodily, she is 
full as well as could be expected and quietly awaits in the midst 
of her loving family the homeward call. 

About four months later to be followed by: 

"Mrs. Matthew Griswold died at her home in Black Hall 
on Saturday, November 26th, at the unusual age of 100 years 

119 



ifl 



OLD SILLTOWN 



and four months. Mrs. Griswold was born at Mt. Archer, 
North Lyme, in 1804 and in 1827 was married to Matthew 
Griswold, son of Gov. Roger Griswold. Her maiden name 
was Ely. Mrs. Griswold had never known illness during her 
whole long life and retained her faculties almost to the end. 
Her death came from advanced age. Mrs. Griswold was the 
mother of eight children, four of whom lived with her at the 
old family place. Her oldest daughter died some years ago. 
She leaves to mourn her death six daughters, one of whom is 
Mrs. J. C. Selden of Erie, Pa., and Mrs. H. S. Ely of New 
York City, and one son, Matthew Griswold of Erie, Pa., a 
prominent business man and founder of the Griswold Manu- 
facturing Company of that place. Her funeral was attended I 
by many friends on Tuesday afternoon from her residence in 
Black Hall. 

The funeral of Phoebe H. Ely Griswold, widow of Mat- 
thew Griswold, took place at her late home at Black Hall on 
Tuesday afternoon. The deceased was in her one hundred and i 




GRISWOLD BURYING GROUND, BLACK HALL, CONN. 



120 



OLD SILLTOWN 



first year and many persons gathered to pay their last respects. 
Numerous handsome floral pieces attested the sorrowful 
remembrance of her friends. Rev. Chas. Villiers was the 
officiating clergyman. Interment was in the Griswold burying 
ground at Black Hall. The bearers were five grandsons and a 
grand nephew of the deceased woman. They were Wm. Gris- 
wold, Roger Wolcott Griswold, Dwight Griswold, Horace 
Griswold Ely, Matthew Griswold Ely and Chas. Griswold 
Bartlett. 

CONCERNING MRS. GERTRUDE McCURDY 

GRIFFIN. 

FROM THE DEEP RIVER NEW ERA. 

In our last issue we announced the death of Mrs. G. 
McCurdy Griflin at her home in Old Lyme on Wednesday, 
September 14th, 1904. The news of her death which came 
with great surprise to all who heard of it, brought sadness to 
many hearts in the community and far beyond it. Though 
perhaps not quite in her usual health, she was, on the morning 
of her decease, well and cheerful, and in conversation with 
members of her family within a few moments of her departure 
from the home which had been hers from birth to the land 
which has no shadows. Gertrude McCurdy Lord, daughter 
of Stephen J. Lord, and Sarah Ann McCurdy was born at 
Old Lyme, March 5th, 1840. Her education begun at Mrs. 
Phoebe Griflin Noyes' School, Old Lyme, was continued at 
Miss Drapers' School in Hartford, and at Miss Haines' School 
at New York City. At all these institutions she ranked high 
in general scholarship, and especially so in higher mathe- 

121 



OLD SILLTOWN 



matics. In September, 1856, she became a member of the Con- 
gregational Church, the church of many of her ancestors, and 
with which from childhood, she had been associated. She was 
married on June nth, 1862, to Dr. Edward Dorr Griffin, son 
of George Griffin and Ann Augusta Neilson of Catskill, N. Y. 
Dr. Griffin, a product of the College of Physicians and Sur- 
geons in New York, practiced medicine in Old Lyme until his 
death, some twenty-two years later. Mrs. Griffin loved her 
church dearly, and always gave of her means, her time and her 
thought, of herself, to promote in every way its interests. She 
took a deep and vital interest in missions, at home and abroad. 
Of quiet nature, a devoted love of her home and family, she 
nevertheless as a Christian woman did her part in whatever 
ways she could, for the material, mental and moral welfare of 
the community. Of superior intelligence, her reading was 
both wide and varied, but the book she loved and studied above 
all others, was the Bible. In it she found, while reading it for 
devotional ends, true nourishment for mind and spirit. To 
those who knew Mrs. Griffin best — knew her as one friend 
knows another — the impression made upon their minds, 
through their acquaintance with her, was that she was a woman 
of great sincerity, of deep sympathy and of remarkable seren- 
ity. Truly, her fellowship was with God, and the result was 
a life and character quiet, gentle and gracious. 

MRS. CATHARINE MATSON TERRY. 

ARTICLE FROM THE DEEP RIVER NEW ERA, NOVEMBER iST, 1912. 

Mrs. Catharine Matson Terry, widow of Rev. James 
Pease Terry, died at her home, Matson Hill, Lyme, on Tues- 
day afternoon, October 29, in the 90th year of her age. She 

122 



OLD SILLTOWN 



was the only daughter of Israel Matson and Phoebe Ely 
Matson. 

She was born at Lyme January 28th, 1823. At an early 
age she attended school at New London and later at Mrs. 
Apthorp's school for girls on Hillhouse avenue, New Haven. 
She married Rev. James P. Terry, who was pastor of the Con- 
gregational church at Somers, Conn. Later they moved to 
South Weymouth, Mass., where Mr. Terry was pastor of the 
Second Congregational church for over thirty years. 

After Mr. Terry's death in 1873 Mrs. Terry lived at her 
old home in Lyme. She then moved to Philadelphia and 
made her home there with two of her sons, Dr. J. L. Terry 
and Frank A. Terry, until about two years ago when she and 
her son. Dr. Terry, returned to Lyme. 

She was a woman of exceptional mental attainments and 
beautiful Christian character. She was beloved by all who 
knew her and her long life was filled with unselfish devotion 
to others. 

Her brother, Nathaniel Matson, was graduated at Yale 
college in the class of 1847. He died at Hartford in 1851. 
Her youngest brother. Col. Israel Matson, with whom she 
lived at Lyme after her husband's death, was on the staflf of 
his cousin. Governor Buckingham, during the Civil War. 

Her children now living are Prof. N. M. Terry of the 
naval academy at Annapolis, Dr. J. L. Terry of Lyme, Frank 
A. Terry of Philadelphia, Pa., and Charles A. Terry of New 
York. Her son. Rev. I. N. Terry, D. D., died in 1908 at 
Utica, N. Y., where he was for several years pastor of the 
Westminster Presbyterian church. 

Mrs. Terry's memory will be cherished by all of her many 

123 



OLD SILLTOWN 



friends because of her cheerful disposition, her self-sacrificing 
devotion to her family and her townspeople, and her noble 
character. 

Mrs. Terry united with the First Congregational church 
of Old Lyme in September, 1838, and although her member- 
ship was afterward removed to other churches of which her 
husband was pastor, she retained a warm interest in the church 
of her youth, and was able to attend its services within a few 
weeks of her death. She entered the church under the ministry 
of the Rev. Chester Colton and was probably the only sur- 
vivor of those who united with this church prior to the pastor- 
ate of the Rev. D. S. Brainerd. A woman of high faith and 
genuine piety, her presence was an inspiration to her fellow 
Christians to the end. 

Funeral services were conducted by the Rev. E. M. Chap- 
man at her home on October 3 ist. Interment was in the family 
burial plot in Old Lyme cemetery. The pallbearers were 
Thomas B. Farwell, George Griswold, Waldo Banning and 
John E. Noyes. 



124 



Memorial Discourse 



of the 



of 



Old Lyme, Connecticut 
July 19th, 1876 



By ^ 
WM. B. C0RY 



i 






First Congregational Church % 

1693-1876 



^-'A 



^ 



I 



OLD SILLTOPFN 



Discourse 

In the wonderful disposition of Providence, it has fallen 
to me — a stranger to Lyme six months ago, yet, by descent, a 
rightful participant in all that pertains to her history — it has 
fallen to me to prepare and deliver a memorial discourse from 
this time-hallowed pulpit. 

What a stranger-hand might but mechanically touch in 
tracing the history of this church, thrills me with concern 
and delight as from the yellow, time-worn record page the 
events of the past have been discovered to me, for in this 
place my maternal ancestors had their birth, and from here 
went forth to fight in the War of Independence. 

If, in the pleasure of Almighty God, your late pastor had 
been spared to this Centennial year, this church would have 
had a historical discourse rich in reminiscence and full in 
detail. Wanting his varied learning and wide experience, 
and depending upon the meagre notices preserved in town, 
society, and church records, and some well-preserved tradi- 
tions, I still find a wealth of history that with pride may be 
cherished by this church to the last generations. 

ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH. 

An old record reads thus: "Lyme, Mch. the 27th, 1693, 
at a town meeting it was desired and agreed upon with the 
inhabitants of this town, as agreed by a unanimous vote, that 
there may be a church gathered in this town, and Mr. Noyes 
called to office, if it may be obtained according to the rules 
of Christ." 



126 



OLD SILLTOWN 



"Ye prime Society of Lyme" was thus organized, and 
the Rev. Moses Noyes was installed its pastor. He had, 
however, been preaching to the people of Lyme for twenty- 
seven years prior to this, or from the year 1666, nor does it 
appear why a church was not earlier organized. The un- 
settled state of society at that time, when the fathers were 
attempting a settlement among wild and jealous tribes of 
Indians, may account for it. Preaching, however, was sus- 
tained by the people of the new settlement which took the 
name of Lyme. 

MEETING-HOUSES BUILT. 

A meeting-house was built shortly after Mr. Noyes began 
to preach, probably, before 1668. Tradition describes it as 
a small log-house erected by the settlers on the brow of meet- 
ing-house hill, overlooking the Sound and the surrounding 
country. 

The old Indian trail crossed the hill at this place, and it 
was by this worn pathway that the men on horseback with 
the women on pillions behind them, came to meeting. 

How the aged eyes of the grandfathers lighted up with 
excitement, and the hot blood of youth came again to the 
sunken cheeks as they described the scenes of those days! 
The men came with their loaded muskets in their hands, and 
regularly detailed some of their number to stand guard dur- 
ing the services that they might not be surprised by the Indians. 

The women, by their courageous devotion in sharing pri- 
vation and braving peril, sustained their husbands and sons in 
the laudable design of planting a settlement and a church 
here. 



127 



OLD SILLTOJFN 



In this primitive house the early settlers held their meet- 
ings for about twenty-one years, or until 1689, when the 
second meeting-house was built. This date appears to be 
well authenticated from the following minute of the appoint- 
ment by the general court, of a committee to locate the house, 
and their report there upon. 

This committee visited Lyme and heard the "several alle- 
gations and reasons" of the people, and "saw reason to pitch 
upon two places where to set the meeting-house, and with 
the consent of the greatest part of the people of Lyme, we, 
after calling upon the Lord, commended the decision of the 
case to a lot, which lot fell upon the southernmost we had 
appointed, which is upon the hill where the now meeting- 
house stands, more northerly, in the very place where we 
shall stake it out." The report is signed by Jno. Talcott, 
Jno. Allin. 

"This day in Lyme, June 4th, 1686." 

Also the following minute on the records of the town. 

"September the 26th, 1691;, at the same meeting, Joseph 
Peck demanded of the town £2, 19s. o6d., due to him when 
the new meeting-house was built in the year 1689." Which 
records establish the fact that there was a meeting-house stand- 
ing before this one was built, and that this one was built in 
the year 1689. 

It was a commodious and substantial building capable of 
accommodating all the inhabitants of the town. 

Its location was on the brow of the hill, somewhat to the 
north and west of the first one, and on the other side of the 
Indian trail, which had by this time developed into a well- 
worn track for horses. 

128 



OLD SILLTOWN 



The brow of the hill was chosen as a site for the second 
house for the same reason probably, as before, viz. : On account 
of its security from surprise by the Indians; also, because it 
was midway between the settlements at Blackball and the 
region now called Whippoorwill, and the town of Saybrook, 
opposite to which, on the banks of the Great River, was 
another growing settlement that demanded church accommo- 
dations. 

After thirty-eight years of service it seems this house 
needed some repairs. On the Society records of January 
4th, 1727, there is this minute in the quaint old language of 
the times, "It was voted yt they will repair ye meeting-house 
in manner and form as follows: First, to clabord ye fore 
side of said hows, and part of ye east end, and rectifie ye 
windows and glass, and what els ye cometee for yt affair think 
fit, not exceeding forty pounds." 

In the year 1734, the second house was found to be too 
small to accommodate the increasing population, consequently, 
we find a record to this effect, "Voted, that this Society think 
it highly necessary, and convenient to erect or build a new 
meeting-house in this Society." And the next year the Society 
voted to build a house "60ft. long by 40ft. wide, and 24ft. 
between the sill and the plate," and a committee was appointed 
to go to the General Court and ask the appointment of a 
committee by that body to locate the site for it, inasmuch 
as the Society could not agree upon any among themselves, 
and as the former committee had acted so judiciously and 
well. 

The site selected was still the brow of the hill, a little to 
the north and west of the old house. 

129 



OLD SILLTOWN 



After the second meeting-house had stood forty-nine years, 
we find by the Society records in 1738, the third meeting- 
house was inclosed, and a committee was appointed to finish 
it. There is also the following minute: "Sept. the 19th, 
1738. Voted, that this Society will pull down the old meet- 
ing-house, and improve what timber and boards that will be 
proper towards finishing the new meeting-house in this 
Society." 

It was not burned down as some tradition has it, nor worn 
out, but was inadequate to the wants of the increasing popu- 
lation. 

The third house was located on the same hill as the second, 
and a short distance from it. And from the fact that this same 
site was chosen, it is apparent that the interests of the people, 
settled on the bottom lands between meeting-house hills and 
the Connecticut river were so important as to demand con- 
sideration, as, otherwise, the meeting-house would have been 
located nearer to Blackball. 

In 1754, one Barnabas Tuthill offered to give a bell to 
the Society if the people would build a steeple for it to hang 
in. A steeple was accordingly built, and the first bell began to 
summon the people to meeting, in lieu of the horn or trum- 
pet, which, tradition says, they had been accustomed to hear. 

This bell rang in the Independence of the Colonies in 
Lyme, and in default of any record as to its final disposition, 
I suggest the probability that it was given, with others 
throughout the Colonies, to make cannon for the Revolution ; 
for in the year 1780, the Society voted "to procure a bell for 
the steeple," thus signifying that the old one had been disposed 

130 



OLD SILLTOWN 



of in some way. I do not ofifer it as a historical fact, but make 
the suggestion that the bell was melted up for war purposes. 

This same year, 1780, the third meeting-house caught 
fire in the roof from the tow wad of the old-fashioned flint- 
lock musket which one of the guardians of the house used to 
shoot some woodpeckers that were boring holes in it. The 
fire was extinguished by the light horsemen stationed in the 
town — or, as tradition says, by the Hessians, who clambered 
on the roof like squirrels. The Society voted $100 on this 
occasion, "to such persons as dangerously exerted themselves 
to extinguish the late fire." 

In the year 181 5, after standing 76 years, this house was 
struck by lightning and burned to the ground, very little of 
the material being saved. 

The present meeting-house, the fourth built by this 
Society, was erected in 18 17, near the south end of the main 
street. A model of architectural beauty in those days, a beauti- 
ful and graceful building for any age. 

The corner-stone was laid in 181 6, with imposing cere- 
monies, a copper plate being deposited in it, inscribed as 
follows : 

"Old meeting-house burnt by 

lightning, July 3, A. D. 181 5. 

This corner-stone laid with 

religious ceremonies by the 

Rev. Lathrop Rockwell, Pastor, 

June loth, A. D. 18 16. 

Sam. Belcher, Architect. 

Eben Smith, Master mason." 

131 




THE OLD CHURCH Al' LYM2, PAINFING BY CHILDE HASSAM. 




OLD SILLTOWN 



The names of the building committee were inscribed on 
the other side of the plate. The house was seated at first with 
the old-fashioned square pews at the sides, and "slips" in the 
center. 

The first pulpit was a high, circular one, reached by a 
flight of steps from either side. Those who remember it 
describe it as a beautiful and costly mahogany pulpit, and 
lament its destruction. In 1836 it was first lowered. In 1850 
it was removed altogether, and a high platform was built, and 
the present pulpit set upon it. At the same time, the square 
pews were removed, and the modern ones substituted in their 
stead. 

The church was at first surrounded by a picket fence, 
which was repaired from time to time, but was finally 
removed. 

In one corner of the church yard stood that old relic of 
primitive times, the whipping-post; the indispensable orna- 
ment of every New England village. But all traces of it 
have long since vanished, and the present generation has 
fortunately only the memory of it, not the fact. 

The stocks were erected on the opposite side of the main 
street, but the memory of the oldest inhabitant serves only 
to recall their use as a plaything for the boys. 

The present church has stood sixty-one years, and is now 
in an excellent state of preservation. 

These grand old elms that so beautify and adorn the 
church yard, were planted in the year 1828, when the Society 
appointed a committee "to procure ornamental trees to set 
about the meeting-house." 



133 



OLD SILLTOWN 



If we have to thank the fathers for anything, we surely 
have to for this beneficent act. He who plants a tree scarcely 
realizes the bounty of his deed; future generations will rise 
up and call him blessed. 

The aggregate number of years that this town has had a 
meeting-house for the worship of God, is 208, although the 
society is but 183 years old. 

THE PASTORS. 

In its 183 years of life, the Society has had eight pastors. 
And in reviewing the record, the observer is struck by the 
conviction that it has been wonderfully blessed in the selection. 

First is the veteran founder of the Society, Moses Noyes, 
a faithful minister to Lyme for twenty-seven years of the 
infant life of the settlement, and afterwards, pastor of the 
church for twenty-eight years. 

The best blood of England was the best blood of America; 
well illustrated in the case of Moses Noyes, who was the son 
of James Noyes of Wiltshire, who was the son of William 
Noyes of Salisbury, who was Attorney General of England 
from about 1608 till after 1620, whose wife was sister of the 
Rev. Robert Parker, "one of the greatest scholars of the 
English Nation." 

James Noyes came to New England because, as Cotton 
Mather says, "he could not comply with the ceremonies of 
the Church of England." He had two sons, James and 
Moses. James , the elder, was Moderator of the Saybrook 
Synod of 1708, and Moses, himself a member of the Synod, 
was, according to Dr. Bacon, "a man of great and extensive 
learning, an excellent Christian, and a judicious divine." 

134 



r - 



OLD SILLTOWN 



He was followed by Samuel Pierpont, in 1722, a young 
man of great promise, son of Rev. James Pierpont of New 
Haven, a member of the Saybrook Synod, the one who, it is 
said, drafted the articles of its platform; who also laid the 
foundations of a "collegiate school," which afterwards grew 
into Yale College. "His beautiful and gifted daughter 
Sarah," as Dr. Bacon says, "a great granddaughter of Thomas 
Hooker, was like a ministering angel to her husband (the 
great President Edwards), that wonderful preacher and 
theologian, whose name is to this day the most illustrious in 
the history of New England, but who could never have 
fulfilled his destiny without her." 

Such were the family connections of Samuel Pierpont, 
whose short pastorate of three months in Lyme, closed with 
one of the most romantic yet sad incidents in history. 

In March, 1723, he crossed the Connecticut river to Petti- 
paug, now Essex, to visit his lady-love living in Middletown. 
The ferriage was made by the Indians, in canoes, from near 
Higgins' wood to Ferry-point. Returning, young Pierpont 
embarked on one of these canoes, and had nearly crossed the 
river, when a sudden squall rendered the canoe unmanage- 
able among the floating ice, and finally capsized it, when, not 
being able to swim, he was lost, although his Indian guide 
saved himself. 

This was Lyme's shortest pastorate. 

Next came the theologian and revivalist, Jonathan Par- 
sons, in whose writings we learn there were 768 inhabitants in 
the parish in 1735. 

The parish comprised about the same limits as at present, 
the north society having been formed in 1727, the east parish 

135 



OLD SILLTOWN 



in 1719 — so that, since 1735, this parish has increased in 
numbers 582. 
• When Whitefield preached in Boston, in 1740, Parsons, 

from the strange accounts brought to him of the man and 
his methods, was inclined to regard him with distrust, and, 
to satisfy himself, made the journey to New Haven, and 
afterwards to other places where Whitefield preached, to 
i hear him. Acquaintance with the great preacher undeceived 
him, and a close friendship sprang up between the two men, 
which lasted till death. 

Tradition says Whitefield came to Lyme to visit Parsons, 
and preached to the people, gathered beneath, from the great 
rock in the rear of the present church; and this tradition is 
probably correct, for he was a great friend of Parsons, who 
was dismissed from the pastorate of this church in 1745, and 
followed the fortunes of his friend till his death, which 
occurred in Parsons' own house, in Newburyport, Mass., on 
the 30th of September, 1770, and was buried, according to 
his own desire, in front of the pulpit of the church of which 
Parsons was the pastor. 

A glance at Parsons' itinerary work is interesting. About 
the time of the "great awakening," several pastors united to 
invite him to preach for them. He did so. On the 8th of 
June he preached at Salem; on the 9th, at the north parish 
of New London. From thence he went to Norwich — thence 
to Stonington on the nth. Returning, he preached at Gro- 
ton on the 12th, Norwich on the 13th; remained there over 
the Sabbath, when there was a powerful exhibition of con- 
trition and repentance in the congregation. On the 15th he 
preached to the "new society" in Norwich; on the i6th in 



136 




r 



OLD SILLTOWN 



I 



New London, where he was invited by Mr. Adams, whose 
church was divided by the preaching of Davenport, an 
inflamed orator against everybody, and everything not in 
accord with himself. 

Mr. Parsons endeavored to promote harmony in the 
churches, and establish the Word in its purity and simplicity. 

A singular mania possessed the people of Lyme under his 
preaching, to publicly confess their sins. We find, for 
instance, a record of July ii, 1733: one "Thomas Graves 
offered a confession for breaking the peace and contemning 

the church, which was accepted;" "Jan. 9, 1732, 

made and offered a confession for giving way to passion, evil 
speaking, and intemperate drinking, which was read and 
accepted." Another confession was made by a woman for 
abusing her neighbors. 

Many confessed the sins of drunkenness, fornication, evil 
speaking, railing against neighbors, etc., etc., and Mr. Par- 
sons himself read a confession of some dereliction of duty, in 
which he "severely reflected upon himself." 

These confessions being read before the church, the 
ofifending members, upon expression of their penitence, were 
received again into its charity. 

Next comes the longest pastorate of the eight, stretching 
over forty years — the most trying, in many respects, of the 
years of its existence. They were those between 1746 and 
1786— those years that mark the hardships of the French 
and Indian war, and the struggle of the colonies for freedom 
from the oppression of the British crown. 

This was the pastorate of him whom Bancroft well calls 
"the incomparable Stephen Johnson." 

137 



OLD SILLTOWN 



It is the glory of this town and of this society, that while 
among its pastors it has numbered one whose stirring appeals 
awoke not only the people of this town to righteousness, but 
also those of a large section of Connecticut and Massachu- 
setts, through which he itinerated, it has also numbered one 
whose clear, bold eloquence, coupled, as it was, with a search- 
ing, irresistible logic, discovered to the people of New Eng- 
land, God's primal heritage to man, viz.: freedom from 
oppression, and the inherent right to worship Him, untram- 
meled by State laws or the decrees of kings. 

Nowhere in this New World was the clarion note of a 
people's freedom more fearlessly or faithfully sounded, than 
from the pulpit of the First Congregational Church of Lyme. 

'Twas fitting that God's minister, while teaching the 
Fatherhood of God, and the equality of man before him, 
should proclaim this freedom; and the patriot breast of John- 
son, fired with a noble enthusiasm, offered itself to the brunt 
of regal tyranny, in defending and encouraging the liberties of 
the colonies. 

The next longest pastorate is that which has so lately 
closed. Davis S. Brainerd began and ended his ministerial 
life in this church — a life which was given to the work of 
quiet upbuilding and strengthening of the kingdom of God. 
Under his pastorate it was that the church passed through 
the trials of the late war, and steadily prospered from first 
to last. He was a finished scholar, found worthy to be 
enrolled among the Fellows of Yale College, whose faculty 
testified their deep sorrow at his death by their presence at 
the funeral. He was a man beloved in his parish, and leaves 
blessed memories behind him. 



138 



f^^^ 



OLD SILLTOPVN 



THE CHURCH MEMBERSHIP. 

There is, unfortunately, no record of church membership 
during the ministry of either Mr. Noyes or Mr. Pierpont — at 
least none that has come to light as yet; but, from Mr. Par- 
son's time till now, the total membership is i io8. % 

The largest number added at any one time was during 
Mr. Parsons' ministry, in 1741, when 148 members were 
received, and during his entire ministry of fifteen years he 
received 288 persons into the church. This was the period 
of religious awakening. 

During Mr. Johnson's ministry of forty years, there were 
added to the church 204 members. This was the exciting 
period of civil and political commotion; it is marked by the 
finger of war in all its length. There was no special religious 
awakening during these forty years of colonial struggle, but 
a steady, slow growth throughout. 

In 1 8 17, during Mr. Rockwell's ministry — in the year 
when the present meeting-house was finished — there were 82 
members received. 

In 1832, under Mr. Colton, there were 23 additions. 

During Mr. Brainerd's ministry of thirty-five years, there 
were 265 additions. The largest number received in any 
one of these years was in 1858, when 61 persons were added 
to the church. 

Since January, this year, there have been added to the 
church 28 members — the present total active membership 
being 148. 

Thus it will be seen, the years of special interest were 
1741, 1817, 1832, 1858, and the present — years which marked 
a religious interest in all the country. 1876 is but half gone; 

139 



OLD SILLTOWN 



may we hope that it will not close without witnessing large 
additions to the church of Christ, here and elsewhere, of such 
as shall be saved? 

A few interesting notices in regard to the membership, I 
will cite in passing. In 1740, the Society appointed a com- 
mittee to "seat men and their wives together," thus in the 
year of the "great awakening" the old, senseless custom of 
separating husbands and wives in church, was broken up. 

In 1798, the Society set apart the fore seats in the meet- 
ing-house for the use of "men over 72 years of age, and women 
over 64." In reading such a society vote as this, the inquiry 
naturally suggests itself, where are the aged men and women 
now-a-days? 

We are apt to think there was a larger percentage of these 
venerable ones in those days than now. Perhaps there was. 
Yet, on the Centennial 4th of July, there was one man on 
the grounds, entering heartily into the spirit of the day, whose 
age is 86. 

Besides him, there were a number who are past 80, while 
those fathers and mothers present aged between 70 and 80 
years might easily be mistaken, from their youthful bearing, 
for men and women in the prime instead of in the decline of 
life. 

It seems as though this air of the mountains and verdant 
plains mingled with the sea breezes has a wonderful influence 
in preserving the buoyancy of life. Facts seem to warrant 
the saying ascribed to Baron Von Humboldt, that the health- 
iest district in the United States is the stretch of coast from 
the Connecticut river to Narragansett bay. Ponce DeLeon, 
in his search for the fountain of perpetual youth, was seven 

140 



OLD SILLTOWN 



hundred miles too far south, when he entered the everglades 
of Florida. He never would have made the fatal mistake of 
entering behind "death's curtains" in Florida, if his brigan- 
tine had coasted along our shores. 

Our mothers in the olden time braved the cold of winter, 
to enter a church unheated. They carried with them their 
brass foot-warmers, and ever as they were cooled, had them 
replenished with fresh coals from the neighboring fire-places. 

Stoves were first introduced into the church in 1829, when 
the stove-pipes were run out of the windows. Not without 
opposition, however, were the stoves admitted, yet the people 
seem readily to have become reconciled to an innovation which 
soon proved itself a blessing. 

It is not well to make a vain parade of our ancestry, even 
though it be noble; nor to speak boastingly of our anteced- 
ents before strangers; yet, in the family, it is proper and 
beneficial to recount the worthy deeds of our immediate pre- 
decessors, and to speak in praise of memorable men, if at the 
same time we inculcate the principles upon which their lives 
were founded, and exhort the hearers to emulate them. 

Inasmuch then, as it is in the family, let me recall to you 
the fact that many worthy and honorable men have sat in the 
councils of this church. 

In the meetings of the Society, and serving on its execu- 
tive committees, we read the names of those whom the State 
and the whole country delighted to honor. Men whose names 
are linked with the best of modern times. 

That the race of noble bloods is extinct, we cannot for a 
moment believe, but alas! alas! they are very much hidden 
in the background of private life. Let our prayer and our 



141 



•^^^f^v, 



nr. 



OLD SILLTOWN 



endeavor be to bring them to the light, that they may take 
the active part in our politics that their fathers' did. 

And here let me urge those who are just entering upon 
manhood's duties to heed the lives of these men of old, these 
giants of worth and of work, whose deeds beautify history's 
page; let me urge you to emulate them. The lesson of the 
past will be lost to us, and our rehearsal of its worthy deeds 
will be vain parade, except we profit by it in shaping our 
lives according to the pattern displayed. Oh! let not the 
story of the past be fruitless. But let the seeds of honesty, 
integrity of purpose, and virtue take deep root in your hearts 
and spring forth in fruit, such that the coming time may 
recount with pride, and say to the children of that day, as 
we say to ours, strive to imitate the virtues and the activities 
of the fathers. 

During the 183 years of this church's life, it has been offi- 
cered by eighteen deacons, elected for life. These officers, 
no less' than the pastors, have contributed to the permanent 
welfare and prosperity of the church by their uprightness of 
character, and the wisdom and justice of their dealings. 

OUTLINE HISTORY. 

As rapidly now as I may, I will sketch the outline of the 
church's life. 

When the country was almost an impenetrable wilderness 
from Saybrook to Boston, and the Western Nehantic Indians 
associated with the remnant of the once powerful tribe of 
Pequots, held this whole stretch of coast as their own pecu- 
liar property, and the different tribes from the interior came 
6 yearly down to the beach to feast upon clams and fish and 

142 



OLD SILLTOWN 



bathe in the waters of the Sound, crossing the country on the 
top of the ridge known as Meeting-house hills. 

When these dusky warriors battled with each other, and 
especially, with the white man whom they regarded as an 
unwarranted intruder, then it was that a party of resolute 
men crossed the Great River and formed a settlement here. 
Then it was that the pioneer preacher, Moses Noyes, minis- 
tered to them in the little log meeting-house on the hill, and 
after 27 years of labor, formed the First Congregational 
Church of Lyme. 

By the laws of Connecticut, the church Society was 
authorized to tax the people for its support, and empowered 
to collect said taxes before the courts. There seems to have 
been no trouble about the collection of these taxes until the 
year 1738, when the Society excepted from its levy "all those 
persons called Baptists." 

At what time the Baptists were here first in any strength, 
it is difficult to determine, but about the year 1727 Mr. Noyes 
was much troubled by the preaching of their peculiar tenets 
here, and conferred with Cotton Mather of Boston, who came 
to Lyme at that time, in regard to it, and they jointly held some 
discussion with the Baptists, who, however, continued to 
increase, and were exempted in 1738 from taxation to support 
the Congregational Church. 

Religious liberty began to dawn in the colonies, and the 
right of their own form or method of worship seems to have 
been easily and gracefully granted to the Baptists in Lyme, 
by the Congregationalists, who were then the dominant sect. 

In 1792, we see a still greater advance of religious liberty. 
Heretofore, a tax had been levied to support the ministry, but 

143 



OLD SILLTOWN 



in this year the pews of the church were sold for this purpose. 
'^^' The idea was, that only those who enjoyed the privilege 

should be obliged to pay for the Gospel. But such was the 
effect of the good old training of families in religious ways, 
that the church was crowded, and the new method of sup- 
porting the ordinances gained in favor each year, although 
it was some time before the formal levy of a tax perished 
from sight. 

One important epoch in the history of this church was 
that of the "great awakening," in 1740, to which time we 
can look back with pride and pleasure, as we recognize in 
the pastor, Parsons, one of the great preachers of that great 
day. 

The next great period of the church's history is that of the 
Revolution. 

Into that struggle this church entered, with clear knowl- 
edge as to its probable hardships ; but the men who had planted 
the standard of Christ in the face of a savage, opposing nation, 
were not the ones to draw back, or to yield their liberties. 

This Society gave to the Continental Army officers and 
men freely, and among them was one of the four celebrated 
Connecticut fighting chaplains. 

It is interesting and instructive to glance at the financial 
condition of the country at that time, as displayed by our 
Society records. The depreciation of the currency of the 
country, after the late War of the Rebellion, has been lamented 
by some people in the most extravagant terms, they freely 
asserting that no parallel could be found in history. The fact 
is, it was as nothing compared with the depreciation of the 
old bills of credit issued during the French and Indian War, 

144 



■^'.^aw^w-^^aEiSJIffiafySnHJRrjw.^* 



OLD SILLTOWN 



and, especially, with the depreciation of the paper money of 
the Revolution. 

We find that this Society paid its pastor, in 1782, twenty- 
five dollars, in these bills of credit, for every one dollar of 
"lawful money" due to him, so that a dollar of that depre- 
ciated currency was worth just four cents. |i~l 

Another item of interest is this. In 1776, silver was 
worth two dollars per ounce. It is now worth one dollar 
per ounce. It has shrunk in value, in the last hundred years, 
just one-half, and, at the present rate of production, it looks 
as though it would shrink at least ten times as much in the 
next hundred years. 

The next period was one of peace and retrenchment of 
expenses, broken in upon by that ripple of trouble — the War 
of 1812, 

In 175 1, wharfs were built on the Lieutenant river, near 
the bridge, for the landing of the ships engaged in the West 
India trade, whose cargoes were stored in large warehouses 
built on the shore; but, up to the close of the Revolution, our 
merchantmen were constantly harassed upon the ocean, after 
which, however, Lyme was a thriving mart of trade. Wealth 
poured into the town, not only from this source, but also from 
the great transatlantic passenger lines of ships, many of whose 
captains were natives of Lyme, who adorned their town with 
beautiful and commodious dwellings, in some of which their 
children live; in others, they themselves (having laid down the 
burden of active life) are now spending a well-earned time 
of quiet and repose. 

The next period was one when the tocsin of war again 
aroused the people into bustling activity. This time it was 

145 



1 1^"^ -»-. 



OLD SILLTOWN 



not a foreign foe who invaded our coasts, but one of those 
internal retchings and contortions which a nation, working 
out its liberties, must undergo, shook the States from sea to 
sea. 

With a quick patriotism, worthy of any time, the people 
ran the Stars and Stripes to the masthead; and, as of yore, this 
Society supplied men and money to the government to sus- 
tain the shock of war. She sent men who, by their valor, 
earned the shoulder-straps on the field; and she gave a coun- 
sellor to the nation, whose heart was so true, whose judgment 
so clear, that his merits have been publicly recognized by all 
the people. 

And now is the time of peace once more. Like a ship on 
the sea, buffeting with the waves, and anon gliding over 
crystal waters, again being tossed in the hurricane, weather- 
ing the gales, and sailing, once more, the smooth sea, so this 
Society, born in the lap of struggle, has sustained the shock 
of every trial that has shaken the country for the past 200 
years; and, constant to the truth, in whose name it was organ- 
ized, has steadily triumphed over every obstacle and reverse, 
and stands, today, a united brotherhood. 

Disruptions have, for a time, occurred to mar the harmony 
of its peace; but forgivings and forgettings, and submerging 
of personal feelings in the common central love to Christ our 
Lord, have made us one people — an inseparable church. 

The bond of union, in the past, has been Christ and his 
love. Shall it not be the bond for ever? 

Shall the heroism of the fathers, their devotion to their 
country, to their families, to their God, die with the record? 
Forbid it. Almighty God! 



146 



w 



OLD SILLTOWN 



Shall we not reproduce to the world, by the help of God, 
what was noble and true in them, and give to future history 
a record as unimpeachable as that of the past? || 

END OF DR. GARY'S DISGOURSE 



f 



147 



OLD SILLIOWN 



I 




PRESENT DAY REPLICA OF OLD LYME FIRS'J' CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH. 
On July Jrd 19U4, the church erected in 1817 was burned to the ground 
and many of the surrounding elms were thus destroyed, The church was re- 
erected in the course of the of the suceeding two years. The illustrations in 
this book show the old original church and the new replica as well. 

148 



1 




< 

O 
H 

< 

W 

h 

O 

Q 
Pi 
O 
U 

w 
Pi 



so 

00 





u 






















&£ 


VO M 


N 


OS 


>-( 




< 


00 M 


\o 




"^ 


VO 




V 


























C/3 C« 1/} 




engtl 
of 
stora 


yeai 
montl 


a 


!- U t^ 

ra ca n 




OJ 


I) i> 1) 




►J "1 

Oh 


00 

N e 


n 


o 


fO M CO 






OS c 


o 


vo 


OO 


\r\ 






N N 


00 


N 


r^ 






(^ t^ 


t-^ 


00 


oo 






M »H 


IH 


M 


M 




JZ 








































a 


ON • 


n 


oo 


-+ 


o 




u 




M 






M 


CO 




Q 


> «' 


> 


c 


^; 






<= J2 


O 


« 


o. 






z S 


• z 


s 


< 












■^ 


N 




o 










•+ 


ON 


Th . 1 




-d 






t~^ 


r^ 


oc 








D 






M 


M 




M 








.« 










c> 


C 




1 




e 










M 




en 


1 




,j2 










^ 




i^ 








Q 










4J 


C 
3 


















C/D 




1— > 








(, 


1 M 




\c 





"^ OS M II 









^ c 


t< 


1 'd 


t- OS ON M 


■* 






ve 


^ 


r- 


^ 


^ t^ t^ oe 


oo 




-d 


"" 




H 


" 


M 




M 


M 




u 
























c 


c 


c 


ri- vn p) 


IH 












N 


M 








i> 




















c« 




C 


c 


^ c 


^ 
U 

b 


c 




c 

3 
>— 1 
















ck 


















oo 










o 


N 








t^ 






•d 


\c 


■" 








M 








lU 




















o 

3 




00 


a 


N r* 


1 so 


^ 


4 Tt- II 






H 


N 


'tI 


oo 




o 


CO 




-c 


r- 


t^ 


r- 


t^ 3 


oo 


oo 






tH 


M 


w 




o 


M 


M 




"O 


ra 










E 








W 


> 


OJ 


U 


11 


<6 


I) 


i 
























W 


BI 


ra 


03 


C3 


ca 


ea 


ca 






a: 


>! 


>H 


!>• 


>* 


Q 


>< 


>> 










c: 














<u 


n 




s 


, ' 














s 


g 






^ 




o 






a. 


> 

u 
3 


a: 




Z 

Jai' 

>- 


s 


d 
o 




E 

ca 




M 


JO 

z 


z 


c 
a 

CO 


z 




c 
ca 




-o 

•T3 

ca 




















■a 






















u 




















<u 




















c 
























a> 
















ca 




E 


q. 


c 
c 
c 


c 


- t^ 


c 
c 

'■r 


1. 




c 
o 


pa 






> 

C 

2 


(3. 


CL, 


"o 


■a 


o 
c 




"e 

c« 






c 


1 


c 
o 




re 

fclj 


n 


a; 
U 







The following pages are for the 
purpose of making personal 
memorandum concerning tradi- 
tions or incidents in connection 
with the Sill family, thus pre- 
serving them in condensed and 
permanent form. 



^r, 



§ 



I 



u 



% 






J 



'tI"S^\^\,'! I.-V 




// 



i. 



I 



1J 



£ 



i^ 



^\ 



/'K^ / / 



y 



V 



U" 



LIBRARY OF CONGRESS 



1 1 ill III lllllliilllllll 

014 076 213 1